Tuesday 21 February 2017

Irish anti-ad blocking software firm PageFair confirms it was hacked

Published 06/11/2015 | 16:05

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Irish anti-ad blocking software firm PageFair was hacked last weekend, company founder Sean Blanchfield has confirmed.

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Mr Blanchfield, whose company works with hundreds of media publishers to help get around ad blocking technology used by online consumers, said that 2.3pc of visitors to its customers' websites might have been placed at risk of infection.

“If you are a publisher using our free analytics service, you have good reason to be very angry and disappointed with us right now,” Mr Blanchfield wrote on PageFair’s website.

“PageFair analytics service was compromised by hackers, who succeeded in getting malicious javascript to execute on websites via our service, which prompted some visitors to these websites to download an executable file. I am very sorry that this occurred and would like to assure you that it is no longer happening.

“The attack was sophisticated and specifically targeted against PageFair, but it is unacceptable that the hackers could gain access to any of our systems. We identified the breach immediately, but it still took over 80 minutes to fully shut it down.  During this time, visitors to websites owned by the publishers who have placed their trust in us were targeted by these hackers.”

However, Mr Blanchfield said that there was “no evidence” that any “core” PageFair servers or databases were compromised.

“No publisher account information, passwords or personal information has been leaked,” he said.

Mr Blanchfield said that the company was notifying every publisher who using its affected code.

“If we do not reach out to you directly, it means that you were not affected,” he said.

“We are provisionally estimating that a relatively low percentage of 2.3pc of visitors to the 501 affected publishers during the 83 minutes of the attack would have been placed at risk of infection.”

Earlier this year, PageFair released a report claiming that up to 27pc of websites’ ad inventory is now lost to ad-blocking. The report, which tracked over a billion ad-blocking hits each month from millions of web users’ internet use, found that the number of ad block users worldwide has increased by 41pc in the past 12 months.

In Europe, ad-blocking has grown by 35pc to 77 million monthly active users over the last 12 months

Ad-blocking is primarily used by downloading free software from an internet web browser’s ‘extensions’ list. The two most popular products used are German-owned AdBlock and AdBlock Plus.

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