Are Browsers Threatening Our Business?

34 replies
I've noticed that a lot of my sites in the past week are showing contextual anchor links, which I did not place on them. If you click on one, a pop-up appears with a sales message. The platform used is from Text Enhance. I contacted them and they explained that they don't do this but that it comes from software placed on my computer, most likely in the form of extensions from the major browsers.

I'm really not happy about this. Traffic is being stolen from my sites. I'm sure I must have given "permission" when I downloaded the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox, permission that was buried deep in the Terms and Conditions that came with the download.

Has anyone else brought this up on the Warrior Forum?
#browsers #business #threatening
  • Profile picture of the author bionictortoise
    I'm certain your site has been hacked. As far as I'm aware no-one can add links to your content without accessing the admin. I read about this happening to WP blogs, and how to prevent it.

    Check this one to start with:

    How to Stop Your WordPress Blog Getting Hacked

    Three main basic steps:

    1. Never have Admin as your username
    2. Unless you always have the latest version of WP, delete the version number from the code and RSS feeds.
    3. Don't use normal words as passwords. Hackers can throw dictionary software at them to get in. Use a nonsense 15 digit one with lots of symbols.
    Good luck
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  • Profile picture of the author ShawnSells
    I have NEVER seen this. Sounds more like Malware to me. I would run Malbytes and other spyware/virus removers.
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    • Profile picture of the author toboyle9
      I hired Sitelock to clean up my five hacked blogs, which they did, hard wired my sites, added a half dozen security plugins. I now have the Sitelock seal on my Home Pages, get regular notices from them if there is a problem which has be be corrected within 48 hours or I lose their seal, yet this problem developed within the last week. I went to Google Webmaster tools and had a diagnostic check for malware on all these sites and I got a malware-free assessment.

      I wrote Text Enhance, because that's where the anchor links take me and they told me that the problem is the result of software planted on my sites by Google, Firefox, but not IE. I even see these green-colored anchor links here on the Warrior Forum. So I'm at a loss for words.
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  • Profile picture of the author jasonl70
    it's not your site.. as you pointed out, it's happening here on WF for you as well.
    it's a browser plugin or extension that you must have isntalled unknowingly. I'd just go through and disable them until you find the culprit. It's only losing you sales if the people who visit your site also have the same plugin/extension on their browser.
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    • Profile picture of the author brimexuk
      if you disable the Shockwave Flash 10.3.183.7 Add-on in Firefox and IE the "text-enhance" ads stop from displaying on web pages.
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    • Originally Posted by jasonl70 View Post

      it's not your site.. as you pointed out, it's happening here on WF for you as well.
      it's a browser plugin or extension that you must have isntalled unknowingly. I'd just go through and disable them until you find the culprit. It's only losing you sales if the people who visit your site also have the same plugin/extension on their browser.
      I agree. This is the most likely reason.
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  • Profile picture of the author aduttonater
    Sounds like adware has infected your site. Run Adware, Malware Bytes. Un install and reinstall your browser.
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  • Profile picture of the author toboyle9
    I think everyone is missing my point.

    I don't really care about my own web experience or if it has these annoying links when I view my own site. I'm concerned about all the visitors who come to my sites (or your sites as well) who also have picked up these cookies that infect the sites they visit with this quasi-malware. It could be tens of millions of web surfers who have this same problem, who, when they visit your websites, see your keywords with these Text Enhance links underneath them, which when clicked,steal traffic from your sites and take them to their own affiliate offers.

    I've contacted Text Enhance and their explanation is that web users give them permission to do this when they surf the web because they allow cookies when they surf the web. If you Google Text Enhance, there is a site that explains it. You can delete the cookie if you either fill out a form they take you too, which doesn't work, or add a text piece of code to to your Security settings on your browser, which also doesn't work.

    Most non-IM marketers don't know what this is, and there's no telling how many millions of web browsers and their users are experiencing this. But one thing's for sure--it's affecting web publishers in a negative way. Text Enhance is stealing our traffic!
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  • Profile picture of the author WebPen
    This has been around for a while- GameVance/TrafficVance has had text links for quite a while.

    I think it's basically something you just have to live with. You can get frustrated about it, or join their advertising networks and use this form of marketing to get more traffic to your own site.

    Does it stink? Yeah, kinda- but the guys getting traffic from Text Enhance don't think so
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    • Profile picture of the author JennSpencerIM
      Originally Posted by Justin Stowe View Post


      Does it stink? Yeah, kinda- but the guys getting traffic from Text Enhance don't think so
      So it's a legit thing and not a malware? If so, I think it would be a good way to get more traffic and I'd like to look into it.
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      • Profile picture of the author WebPen
        Originally Posted by JennSpencerIM View Post

        So it's a legit thing and not a malware? If so, I think it would be a good way to get more traffic and I'd like to look into it.
        Well "legit" is relative I think depending on who you talk to

        But yeah, this has been around for a while. Here's basically how it works-

        -A visitor wants to play free game X, use free screensaver Y, etc. but to do so they have to download some software. They agree, along with the terms saying that they'll be marketed to

        -The other end of the game/screen saver company- the side that makes money- is selling advertising space to marketers. These marketers can bid on keywords, URLs, etc. For this example, say they bid on "lose weight fast"

        -The person who downloaded the software goes to a website and the words "lose weight fast" are there and hyperlinked. The user clicks on it, and it takes them to the marketer's landing page. The marketer pays Text Enhance (or whatever company it is) for the click

        So again- is it legit? Technically yes, but obviously its frustrating if you are losing a lot of traffic because of it
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  • Profile picture of the author tpw
    Internet Explorer has been doing this for years.

    That is why I include the following meta tag on all of my sites:
    <meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
    That meta tag prevents IE from including links on your websites.

    Text Enhance seems to be a different incarnation of the same technology, but I haven't looked at its information yet.
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    Publish Coloring Books for Profit (WSOTD 7-30-2015)
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    • Profile picture of the author stephenwaldo
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      Internet Explorer has been doing this for years.

      That is why I include the following meta tag on all of my sites:


      That meta tag prevents IE from including links on your websites.

      Text Enhance seems to be a different incarnation of the same technology, but I haven't looked at its information yet.
      Is this true?

      I haven't used IE in I don't even know how many years (like 8?), so I had absolutely no idea...This makes me really dislike IE.

      I feel like Microsoft just doesn't understand the Internet. I guess I'm not using Bing anymore, since they're already getting all the ad revenue out of me that I think they deserve.

      Well, more actually, since they deserve NONE.

      Sigh. Sadly there is literally nothing else I can do about it.

      How frustrating.

      - Stephen
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    • Profile picture of the author mojojuju
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      Internet Explorer has been doing this for years.

      That is why I include the following meta tag on all of my sites:

      <meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE">
      That meta tag prevents IE from including links on your websites.

      Text Enhance seems to be a different incarnation of the same technology, but I haven't looked at its information yet.
      Smart tags haven't been implemented in browsers since beta versions of IE6. I don't see the point in having the MSSmartTagsPreventParsing tag there unless you expect that a significant portion of your visitors to be browsing with IE6 beta
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  • Profile picture of the author toboyle9
    Thanks, Bill, for that tip

    Somehow this doesn't seem legal to me.Has anyone ever checked with an attorney? Surely there must be some attorneys on the Warrior Forum who might chime in. If there's even a chance of a lawsuit--a class action lawsuit in particular--I would think they would know an associate who would jump in!
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    • Profile picture of the author Dennis Gaskill
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      Internet Explorer has been doing this for years.

      That is why I include the following meta tag on all of my sites:


      That meta tag prevents IE from including links on your websites.

      Text Enhance seems to be a different incarnation of the same technology, but I haven't looked at its information yet.
      Microsoft backed off from that after there was a huge and sustained uproar about it.

      Originally Posted by toboyle9 View Post

      Somehow this doesn't seem legal to me.Has anyone ever checked with an attorney? Surely there must be some attorneys on the Warrior Forum who might chime in. If there's even a chance of a lawsuit--a class action lawsuit in particular--I would think they would know an associate who would jump in!
      This isn't the first time a company has done this. There was one a few years ago, and I can't remember the name of the company, that tried it and eventually shut down that part of their business. They're essentially selling ad space on your website without your permission, and that never goes over well.
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      • Profile picture of the author toboyle9
        Yes, that's exactly my point. They are stealing my traffic and diverting it to their own affiliate offers. This happens on Chrome, IE, and Firefox. I'm not sure about Safari. So even if I can put code on my site that stops this from happening for my sites, what about the 99% of all the other Internet Marketers who don't realize what's going on or who don't visit the
        Warrior Forum. That's why I think this would be a perfect situation for a class action lawsuit. Not that I'm looking for a settlement (the attorneys who file the suit usually get at least 33% of the total settlement), but it would force Text Enhance to cease and desist
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        • Profile picture of the author Black Hat Cat
          Banned
          Originally Posted by toboyle9 View Post

          Yes, that's exactly my point. They are stealing my traffic and diverting it to their own affiliate offers.
          Are they? Can you prove you've lost a single visitor because of this software? I kinda doubt it.
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          • Profile picture of the author toboyle9
            No, I can't document if I've lost any sales from this. I have a back pain site with 20M uniques a month and it is peppered with these Text Enhance links throughout the site with some of my primary keywords highlighted and linking to other back pain relief offers. So, yes, undoubtedly I'm losing some of my traffic.
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      • Profile picture of the author tpw
        Originally Posted by mojojuju View Post

        Smart tags haven't been implemented in browsers since beta versions of IE6.

        I don't see the point in having the MSSmartTagsPreventParsing tag there unless you expect that a significant portion of your visitors to be browsing with IE6 beta
        Originally Posted by Dennis Gaskill View Post

        Microsoft backed off from that after there was a huge and sustained uproar about it.


        This isn't the first time a company has done this. There was one a few years ago, and I can't remember the name of the company, that tried it and eventually shut down that part of their business. They're essentially selling ad space on your website without your permission, and that never goes over well.

        Thanks guys. I did not know that Microsoft had backed off of doing that. All I knew was that they had done it, and I protected against it.
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        Publish Coloring Books for Profit (WSOTD 7-30-2015)
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  • Profile picture of the author Cardiologist
    This seems like the medical online database in the past that supposedly would threaten all of family medicine. An opinion from a lawyer would be great.
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    • Profile picture of the author The Lawyer
      Banned
      Unfortunately, jurisprudence in the context of the internet and the fundamental legalities that accompany it must not be considered in the absence of geography.

      For example, in a very basic way: something that may be legal in Croatia may not be legal in the United States of America. Therefore, since there is no overriding legal governance with regard to the internet, an approach that considers target locations is a must.

      Now, onto the topic of the post. If we are talking about the U.S. and other major industrialized nations in Europe, then your website is isomorphic to personal property (ie. land, vehicle, etc.)

      Browsers do not have the legal right, at least in these locations, to alter the 'fundamentals' of your site. What that means is they may not alter the meta-values of your code in a way that defaces the intention of the property owner. Complicated stuff I know...

      If some browser is doing this, there are, as other posters have stated, code that can be inserted within the parameters of the site that will debilitate forms of alteration within specific browsers.

      There is a chance you have been hacked as well, as another mentioned. What is more, commonly, especially in the internet marketing sphere, we download esoteric software and/or programs without consideration to the hidden malware, etc. embedded cleverly by means aforementioned.

      You may also send a C&D to the company in question (Co. of the browser) if it persists subsequent code-insertion for whatever reason. They will NOT pursue litigation over the matter, and will consequently take it down.
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  • Profile picture of the author socialhydra
    Thanks bionictortoise for your valuable information. I'll do the steps you mentioned.
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  • Profile picture of the author ebusinesstutor
    It is because of some add on you installed in your browser and isn't necessarily in everyone's browser. I would go through and uninstall each of your add ons one by one until you find out which one did it.


    Then you would have a target to go after.

    I hate how Java Updater keeps trying to install the Yahoo toolbar. I have to untick the checkbox every time the program updates. Similar problem.
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  • Profile picture of the author perfectlovehere
    Originally Posted by toboyle9 View Post

    I've noticed that a lot of my sites in the past week are showing contextual anchor links, which I did not place on them. If you click on one, a pop-up appears with a sales message. The platform used is from Text Enhance. I contacted them and they explained that they don't do this but that it comes from software placed on my computer, most likely in the form of extensions from the major browsers.

    I'm really not happy about this. Traffic is being stolen from my sites. I'm sure I must have given "permission" when I downloaded the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox, permission that was buried deep in the Terms and Conditions that came with the download.

    Has anyone else brought this up on the Warrior Forum?
    I've never heard of this before. Do you know what software did this?
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  • Profile picture of the author apolwar
    Originally Posted by toboyle9 View Post

    I've noticed that a lot of my sites in the past week are showing contextual anchor links, which I did not place on them. If you click on one, a pop-up appears with a sales message. The platform used is from Text Enhance. I contacted them and they explained that they don't do this but that it comes from software placed on my computer, most likely in the form of extensions from the major browsers.

    I'm really not happy about this. Traffic is being stolen from my sites. I'm sure I must have given "permission" when I downloaded the latest versions of Chrome and Firefox, permission that was buried deep in the Terms and Conditions that came with the download.

    Has anyone else brought this up on the Warrior Forum?
    I saw some of those in other sites and blogs. I thought those were apps put there by the site owners. I never knew they were parasitically stealing the traffic site.
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  • Profile picture of the author PandaPoacher
    This is the first I've heard of this before, but I'm going to say it could very well be from a hacker or something along those lines. I'm sure a lot of hackers jump into sites like this and just put their links wherever they can.
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  • Profile picture of the author Thomas Wilkinson
    What is threatening our business is a power grab by Comcast, et al. The Net Neutrality bill comes up for a vote next Tuesday. Its worse than any virus or mal-ware ever invented and I haven't heard the first peep in here about it.

    Thomas
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  • Profile picture of the author sadiecopywriter
    You've been hacked. It happened to me 2 weeks ago. Contact your host and ask them to check. When I did, they found it on 7 of my sites even though the links weren't on the sites yet.

    They called it an 'injection hack'. (I Don't know what that means.)

    My sites are all wordpress based and they said it's been happening to a lot of wordpress sites lately unless they are constantly updated.
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  • Profile picture of the author UncleDearest
    I had the same thing happen to me. It's not your sites, it's your browser. At any rate, I used this and it worked like a charm. I think it was $30.00. I tried other free software and it didn't work, like Malwarebytes. Good luck, it's extremely annoying!

    Exterminate It - Reviews and free Exterminate It downloads at CNET Download.com
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    • Profile picture of the author toboyle9
      I appreciate the tips and I'll head over to CNET and download it. Also will use the meta tag on IE to prevent this from happening.

      And you're right, I think this resulted from one of my sites and one of my Hosting accounts that got hacked into several months ago. The malware affected all of the sites I had there (one primary domain and seven addons). I use two other hosting companies for other sites and they're not having this problem. I found the site that was definitely pirated by a hacker as my affiliate links had been changed to his affiliate account. But I was able to change them. The sad news is that Google delisted my site when they discovered the malware on it. I hired Sitelock to scrub it and find the entry point, and they changed all the security locks. But I'm still delisted.

      Anybody know how long Google will keep me delisted? The site was ranked #1 on Google for the primary keyword. Bummer.
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