Vol. 21, #27 - July 4, 2016 - Issue #1087


Reader Feedback: Ad blocking for businesses

  1. Editor's Corner
    • How online ads can affect businesses
    • Microsoft MVP HOSTS file
    • HostsMan
    • uBlock Origin
    • AdBlockPlus
    • Tracking Protection List
    • Send us your feedback
    • Recommended for Learning
    • Microsoft Virtual Academy
    • Quote of the Week
  2. Admin Toolbox
    • Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
  3. This Week's Tips
    • MS Office - Using the QAT
    • MS Exchange - Best practices for SSL/TLS
    • MS Exchange - Limit SMTP sends per mailbox
  4. Events Calendar
    • North America
    • Add Your Event
  5. Tech Briefing
    • Azure
    • Enterprise IT
    • Exchange Server
    • Office 365
    • Security
  6. Recommended TechGenix Articles
    • Recommended articles from websites in TechGenix Network
  7. Other Articles of Interest
    • How to effectively work with multiple cloud providers
    • For better or for worse: The changing role of the Virtualization system admin
    • The many new features of VMware's Horizon 7
    • Dell vWorkspace discontinued as EMC deal looms
    • How to effectively work with multiple cloud providers
  8. WServerNews FAVE Links
    • Hero Pilot Lands Passenger Jet With No Front Wheel
    • Amazing Footage From A Drone Following An R/C Plane
    • World Record - Formula 1 Pit Stop - 1.92 Seconds
    • Quick Change Magic - Victoria and Sos Petroysan
  9. WServerNews - Product of the Week
    • Deep Packet Inspection for Quality of Experience Monitoring

 

 

Editor's Corner

Two weeks ago in Issue #1085 Ad blocking for business we raised a question for our readers to try and answer for us, namely: What do you use to block online ads in your office or corporate environment? We received a number of helpful responses to this question so we're devoting this week's issue of WServerNews to sharing some of our readership's thoughts on this subject so the rest of us in the community can learn from their expertise and experience. Plus of course we've got some other stuff to inform and entertain you.

Naturally we need to kick things off with another classic Dilbert comic on the theme of advertising:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/dugetuda/

Ask Our Readers: WServerNews has almost 100,000 subscribers worldwide. That's a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some issue or need advice on something IT-related? Got a question you'd like us to toss out to our readers to try and answer? Email us at [email protected]

Let's now take a look at some of the ad blocking solutions our readers have recommended...

How online ads can affect businesses

Before we look at solutions to the problem, let's look at the problem itself. Are online ads really a problem for businesses? Or merely an annoyance? This email from David, the President of a company in Fraser, Michigan, USA set us thinking more deeply about the question:

Recently I have been experiencing trolling ads that open in a new tab that state my Firefox needs an update. Of course the update is always from some unusual website (like .ru or .cn). The most recent experience was when I visited my cable company's website to update something on my account. I opened the my.cableprovider.com site but did not log in as I had to take a phone call. When I got off the phone, I saw the fake update message. My first thought was "I have been hacked" but upon review, I determined that one of the never ending ads provided by third parties was the issue. So Ad Blocking for Business maybe a good security move.

My immediate thought when I think of users clicking on ads in a business environment is "wasted time equals lost productivity" but David here reminds us that security may be an even greater issue when it comes to users being exposed to online ads in business environments.
Anyways, you'll see some other comments concerning the impact of online ads upon businesses in several other reader comments below.

Microsoft MVP HOSTS file

In Issue #1085 Ad blocking for business I mentioned that we are currently using a HOSTS file developed and maintained by a Microsoft MVP on all our PCs to block the most popular adservers. This HOSTS file can be downloaded from here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/aj0nggpa/

Greg, who works in Data Centre Operations for a business in Kingston, Ontario, Canada commented concerning this as follows:


Hi Mitch, I use the HOSTS file you mentioned, it gets updated about once a quarter. The last time was May 2016.
I love it, and recommend it to people all the time.
Love the newsletter :-)

Thanks, we always appreciate nice words like that :-)

In my browsing around however I happened to stumble this week upon an old post in The Electric Wand, a blog on TechNet, that suggests some registry tweaks if you decide to use a solution like the MVP HOSTS File:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/1asorkmr/

I wasn't aware of those tweaks and will have to investigate why they're recommended.

HostsMan

Jurriaan, a reader who works as a photographer and is Chief Editor of PhotonMagazine.eu an online digital magazine for the Benelux countries (Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands) took notice of our recommendation of the MVP Hosts file and recommends HostsMan a freeware application that lets you manage your Hosts file with ease:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/98urfgit/

Here's what Jurriaan has to say about this application:


About hostfiles: one of the programs we use for security and adblocking is HostsMan. It is freeware, you'll find it here:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/c4ydo90d/

We've been using it for some years without complaints. HostsMan is using several lists of files which can better be blocked. The program simply downloads public lists. It is possible to get the downloads on an automatic basis, better is to download them by the manual command. There are always a few sites blocked that the user needs. (If such is happening unexpected, it can be annoying.) After downloaded, the updates are fully automatically installed. After the installation the program removes the duplicates.

uBlock Origin

Jurriaan also has a recommendation concerning ad blockers so we're printing his email in full here with a few edits:


About the adblockers we've found a very good solution for the adblockers. Also freeware, uBlock Origin by Raymond Hill:
http://www.wservernews.com/go/13tt5ypj/

It has a very little footprint and requires a very little bit of memory and processor time. It can handle hundreds of filters using some of the lists HostsMan uses and can also modify the hostfile. We use it on Mozilla Firefox, I don't know if it is also suitable for other browsers.

Finally, here's what Jurriaan thinks about the business impact of online ads:

About my opinion about ads. Affiliate ads need a lot of resources, slowing down the machine. Besides there is the security problem, for some people it's a way to induce malware on your system. Fact is that this type of unsolicited advertising is a waste of resources, time and therefore also money. My money. It is in fact "legalized spam}. So we block every activity of others on our systems.
Some sites are warning us that they have to make a living out of their ads. Well, let it be. Not on my systems. They also have the nerve to ask to unblock the ads. The answer is: "Not now and not for you". They better spend a visit to the social security. Have a nice day.

"Not on my systems." I love that, thanks.

AdBlockPlus

Also in Issue #1085 Ad blocking for business I said we had considered using AdBlock for our own business but unfortunately we use Internet Explorer and not Chrome, Safari or Opera which are the supported browsers for that product. A reader named Rich wrote to suggest an alternative we could consider:

According to quick check, the Adblock Plus (not sure about AdBlock) works with IE:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/83bp2i98

And it's even free--golly! But I wonder how well it compares with AdBlock? Email me at [email protected] if you have any insight into this.
Another newsletter reader who uses this product is Burton who works for a group of Certified Public Accountants based in Minnesota, USA. Greg also commented on the large issue of the proliferation of online ads and their effect on businesses as follows:

We use AdBlockPlus for IE and it works well. I have been disappointed in how the advertising has grown on web sites. We started the blocking because we set our firewall to block all but a handful of countries. This caused a spamming of block messages from the firewall since the advertisements come from a number for blocked countries. Sites like MSN were basically unusable. In addition, with the content of web pages being provided by many sites from different countries, I believe the security is compromised. All the phishers, hackers, and all around bad guys have to do is compromise the advertisement in the country of origin and a lot of people have a problem. I advise staff to avoid clicking on any advertisements in their daily life and go to the site manually which is much safer.

From a business perspective, the ads are a distraction and hurt productivity. It is better for any business to block them and increase both productivity and security.

Tracking Protection List

James, an EUC Solutions Architect based in the UK, had some different advice for us since we use IE as our browser on our PCs:

An easy solution for IE users is to use a Tracking Protection List

http://www.wservernews.com/go/7u4nvgzm/

The title of the blog post James is referencing here is "Improving Citrix XenApp session performance by blocking ads in Internet Explorer" and I'm quoting the following statement from this blog post as it's very enlightening:

"Deploy an ad blocker to see improved performance"

The context of this article mainly concerns Citrix and XenDesktop environments (which doesn't concern us directly for our business) but this later sentence in this article got our attention right away:

"So it was quite surprising when I discovered that ad-blocking (or content filtering, to give it the correct term) had been part of Internet Explorer since IE9 in the form of Tracking Protection."

The article goes on to describe how you can use an add-on called a Tracking Protection List (TPL) such as the EasyList provided by AdBlock Plus to block ads for users of IE, and it even walks through how you can manage this feature using Group Policy. So if your users use IE and you want an easy way of blocking ads on their machines, be sure to read this article through in full.

Send us your feedback

Get more ad blocking solutions or products to recommend? Email us at [email protected]

Recommended for Learning

From the Microsoft Press blog:
Free ebook: Introducing Microsoft Power BI
We're happy to announce the availability of our newest free ebook, Introducing Microsoft Power BI (ISBN 9781509302284), by Alberto Ferrari and Marco Russo. Enjoy!

http://www.wservernews.com/go/v2idkw32/

Microsoft Virtual Academy

What's New in Windows Server 2016
If you're interested in moving to Windows Server 2016, watch this helpful course, and get the details about the new features and functionality in this new version of Windows Server, along with those that were modified from previous versions. Our expert instructor team offers demonstrations and high-level overviews, including Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V, software defined networking, storage, and security features.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/s02dlrkn/

 Quote of the Week

"This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it."
--attributed to an Advertising/Marketing Manager with United Parcel Service


Until next week,
Mitch Tulloch

Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don't receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at [email protected] and we'll try to troubleshoot things from our end.

Admin Toolbox

Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

GOT ADMIN TOOLS or other software/hardware you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]

SPDocKit lets you generate SharePoint documentation, analyze and manage permissions, compare farms and track changes, enforce your governance policies, and more:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/3wui4vfu/

Simple IP/IP Range Ping is a free GUI tool from CodePlex:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/zvu2vc53/

The Readable Passphrase Generator generates passphrases which are (mostly) grammatically correct but nonsensical and are easy to remember (for humans) but difficult to guess (for humans and computers):

http://www.wservernews.com/go/z77f523u/

This Week's Tips

GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]

MS Office - Using the QAT

The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) is a feature of Microsoft Office applications that provides users with a small, customizable toolbar that exposes a set of commands that the user can select so they can access them quickly when needed. This great tip on The Electric Wand blog suggests some QAT customizations you may want to try out for your Office applications:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/k4ro29cw/

MS Exchange - Best practices for SSL/TLS

You Had Me At EHLO, the Microsoft Exchange Team Blog, has a must-read post from last year that provides tips and best practices for configuring SSL and TLS on Exchange servers:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/zlnydjmo/

MS Exchange - Limit SMTP sends per mailbox

Also from last year is this post on Ashour's Blog has a helpful tip on how you can limit SMTP applications to send from a specific mailbox:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/9hjwsr4v/

Events Calendar

North America

2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 10-14, 2016 in Toronto Canada

http://www.wservernews.com/go/s1hv2esa/

Ignite on September 26-30, 2016 in Atlanta USA

http://www.wservernews.com/go/3u3k3at3/

Add Your Event

PLANNING A CONFERENCE OR OTHER EVENT you'd like to tell our 100,000 subscribers about? Contact [email protected]

Tech Briefing

Azure

Azure DNS for Exchange Administrators (Part 3) (MSExchange.org)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/zofo37im/

Protecting Exchange with Azure Backup (Part 3) (MSExchange.org)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ohiu3yw5/

Enterprise IT

What's next for NVMe and your Data Center - Preparing for Tomorrow Today (Micron Technology)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/y95txr1t/

Interview - MS architectures (WindowsNetworking.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/z9qdlr7m/

Exchange Server

Email Security with Digital Certificates (Part 2) (MSExchange.org)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/au7nms1b/

Exchange Server 2016 and Microsoft Cloud – Deployment Guide (Part 4) (MSExchange.org)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ez0ceh7b/

Office 365

Outbound DKIM Signing in Office 365 (Part 2) (MSExchange.org)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/damcwc6u/

Deep Dive Into Office 365 PowerShell Cmdlets (Part 4) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ylyqhgme/

Security

Containerization Proliferation - The Docker Effect (Part 5) (WindowsNetworking.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/rzvt7tqp/

Application Security Redux: It's All about the Apps (Part 4) (WindowsSecurity.com)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/uea738f5/

Recommended TechGenix Articles

Deep Dive Into Office 365 Deployment (Part 2)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/q3qkes1h/

Email Security with Digital Certificates (Part 4)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/t215idkw/

Application security redux: It’s All about the Apps (Part 5)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/9p8xv9xt/

Getting Started With Containers (Part 5)

http://www.wservernews.com/go/ll4p4lgw/

Other Articles of Interest

How to effectively work with multiple cloud providers

With many big name cloud providers to choose from—such as AWS, Azure, and Google—many organizations find themselves working with multiple options.
Discover strategies and techniques for working with multiple cloud providers in ways that take advantage of the benefits while limiting duplication of effort and other extra work.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/431xwe37/

For better or for worse: The changing role of the Virtualization system admin

Virtualization system admin jobs are changing, and to be a successful candidate in this rapidly changing landscape you must have the flexibility to deal with change.  But why has the virtualization landscape taken such a drastic turn? Find out how the role of a virtualization system admin has changed in this complimentary tip from our editors.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/2xo0dofy/

The many new features of VMware's Horizon 7

With VMwares release of Horizon 7 last March, along with it came a ton of new features. Discover more about the many new features the product offers such as forking VMs, establishing protocols and creating desktop pools.

http://www.wservernews.com/go/a9ec3cs6/

Dell vWorkspace discontinued as EMC deal looms

Dell is ending development of its vWorkspace product—and the move may be a result of preparation for the Dell-EMC deal that brings competitor VMware under its hood.  Find out more:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/m2b0hnhc/

WServerNews FAVE Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]

Hero Pilot Lands Passenger Jet With No Front Wheel

A skillful pilot landed an Iran Air Boeing 727 plane without its front landing gear at Tehran's Mehrabad airport:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/sqxn0wrb/

Amazing Footage From A Drone Following An R/C Plane

Every year at the Triple Tree Aerodrome, radio controlled airplane fanatics gather to watch some of the most skillful pilots demonstrate their spectacular flying skills:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/jqrkz688/

World Record - Formula 1 Pit Stop - 1.92 Seconds

Blink and you'll miss this amazingly fast Formula 1 crew changing four tires - in 1.92 seconds!

http://www.wservernews.com/go/u7lpa8f1/

Quick Change Magic - Victoria and Sos Petroysan

Victoria and Sos Petroysan Petrosyan show how it is possible for women to get dressed quickly in a magical performance at America's Got Talent 2016:

http://www.wservernews.com/go/u7dmj6tk/

WServerNews - Product of the Week

 

WServerNews - Editors

Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit and has been author or series editor for almost fifty books mostly published by Microsoft Press. Mitch is also a ten-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com.

Ingrid Tulloch is Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also manages research and marketing for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.