Tech by VICE

An Anti-Adblock Service Was Hacked and Infected Some Users With Malware

PageFair is a tool designed to circumvent adblockers—and it ended being hacked to spread malware.

by Rachel Pick
Nov 6 2015, 6:25pm

Image: Luke Jones/Flickr

A breach in security at PageFair, a tool used by sites to circumvent ad blocking software, may have exposed PC users to malware.

PageFair is used by many sites, but one that has since come forward publicly to warn its users is The Economist. According to the publication, anyone browsing its site between 11:52 pm and 1:15 am GMT Halloween night (the time of the breach) was at risk. Hopefully you were handing out candy or downing spiked cider at the time instead of catching up on geopolitics, but everyone is different.

The irony is that ad blockers can protect users from malware that's spread via infected online ads. Rates of this kind of malware have tripled in just the past year. PageFair fought hard in the recent debate over ad blocking, predicting $22 million in revenue loss to publishers in 2015. A malware-spreading breach in its own security does not help its anti-adblock argument, to say the least.

The security breach affected 501 sites, with PageFair estimating that 2.3 percent of visitors to these sites during the time of the breach "have been placed at risk of infection."

Regardless, now would be a good time to ensure that you've got security software up and running and make sure everything is gravy on your PC.