Why did I suddenly get a lot of pop up ads?

I had never had a serious problem with pop up ads. There would be occasional ones but not so many that they were a nuisance that required action. But suddenly starting with the last week I was flooded with them. They seemed to be mostly from a few legitimate business sites like Hotels.com and another for discounted eyeglasses. I don’t know why they started.

I downloaded AdblockPlus and it has stopped the ads so the problem has gone away. But I am curious why they suddenly exploded. Anyone have any ideas?


  1. Dunc says

    It’s possible that either your machine or some intervening network kit (such as your router) has been infected with malware to inject them. Do they only appear on one machine? If you hit a site that is throwing them up, do they still appear if you connect via HTTPS?

  2. Mano Singham says

    Yes, it is only on one machine. I thought https was something that the server side controlled. I was not aware that I could choose to have connections only via https. How does one do that?

  3. TGAP Dad says

    If I had to guess, I would say they likely have enough of a profile of you to get more specific in their marketing. They likely know all of the basics -- age, retired or working, married or single, etc. They may have also added specific information, including what you’ve bought online and searched for. As for why pop-ups vs. banner, may be a particular ad server.

  4. lanir says

    While you can always just try to add “https://” to the front of any web address, if you’d like to automate using https by default you can download HTTPS Everywhere here:


    You will find yourself doing some troubleshooting if you use this but it’s pretty straightforward. If a site breaks, the first thing you should do is disable HTTPS Everywhere for the site and reload. If this fixes the issue, it’s probably like freethoughtblogs: it has content that is hardwired to transfer over plain HTTP without encryption. Re-enable HTTPS Everywhere whether this is successful or not. You can then selectively disable checkboxes next to domain names until a reload has the page working as intended. Ideally you disable as few as possible.

    I also recommend Privacy Badger by the EFF whether you use HTTPS Everywhere or not. it has it’s own tutorial and rarely causes problems.

  5. lanir says

    On a side note, anything that alters the page before your browser displays it can and eventually will break things. It won’t change anything meaningful for HTTPS Everywhere but troubleshoot ad blockers and privacy add-ons in a private browser window (CTRL+SHIFT+P in Firefox or CTRL+SHIFT+N in Chrome). Open one up, copy and paste the address, and then turn off ad blockers. The benefit is your browser will try to ditch cookies and other tracking mechanisms automatically when you close that window. Without that step you’re leaking data to assholes every time you have to stop and troubleshoot.

  6. Dunc says

    I thought https was something that the server side controlled. I was not aware that I could choose to have connections only via https. How does one do that?

    Whether https is supported (or even required) is determined by the server, but many sites (such as this one) support both. You can manually change the protocol at the start of the URL from http:// to https://. If there is something between you and the server injecting muck into your traffic, changing to https should prevent it (there are some scenarios where that’s not necessarily the case, but they mostly involve corporate networks). However, if the problem is actually on your machine, then it probably won’t help.

    It’s fairly common for public wifi hotspots (such as the ones on my local buses) to inject advertising into http traffic, which I regard as deeply rude.

    If it’s only happening on one machine, then it’s quite likely down to malware of some kind.

  7. doublereed says

    The EFF also suggests PrivacyBadger as an extension along with HTTPS Everywhere. Both are great as you basically install them on the browser and forget about them. I’ve never had any issues with either.

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