Android 4.2.2 leaves Adblock Plus pretty much useless

February 14, 2013
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Adblock plus

A patch that fixes a security hole has been included in Android 4.2.2 that effectively causes AdBlock Plus to be ineffective. A popular content-filtering and ad blocking extension for desktop browsers, AdBlock Plus has made its Google Play debut in November 2012. However, it didn’t take long before Google devs found a serious flaw that leaves users vulnerable to phishing and data theft exploits in exchange for blocking ads.

This security flaw largely involves apps with internet access permission to change the device’s proxy configuration to a ‘localhost’. Adblock Plus does this automatically in order to block ads and has caused a healthy discussion over at Google, with one user even suggesting that the app should be removed from Play Store altogether due to its apparent threat to web and app developers. Many of them, after all, earn income chiefly from ads.

An AdBlock Plus dev has proposed methods on how to fix the security hole without undermining their ad blocking functionality. However, Google has resolved the bug with its own solution, leaving proxy redirection to be done manually every time an internet connection is established. This makes AdBlock Plus to become mostly useless, something that other app developers find as good news. On the other hand, users will certainly miss navigating the web and apps sans annoying ads.

The AdBlock Plus devs are still working on how to bypass the issue. In the meantime, they have provided rather cumbersome instructions on how to manually set proxies that only the most persistent users are willing to do.

Comments

  • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

    Ok, I reckon ads can be annoying (specially when you click them without meaning to), but, well, it’s how devs get their income. Without these devs there would be no apps, so I don’t see the problem with ads in apps, really, considering all of this.

    Now if there’s a chance to keep using AdBlock, but you have to activate it manually, I think it’s ok – After all, if you’re going to backstab the devs, you’d better have to work hard for that so maybe people consider not doing it in the first place :)

  • Roberto Tomás

    I don’t so much support AdBlock as I hate ads, particularly the type that modal-block content or force you to watch a commercial before watching the video you wanted to see that was ultimately really just another commercial itself (I’m talking about you, youtube!)…
    I’m not clear on why redirecting to localhost is a good idea in the first place, or why any proxy setup can’t be made part of the installation process. I’m actually kinda glad Google went Dictatorial on this one though, because making the end-users aware of system-wide configuration changes is generally a good thing.

  • PopeJamal

    Zero mercy for ads. Devs, if the free version of your app uses those popup ads, i won’t even consider using it, let alone buying the paid version. If you want money for an app, then ask for it. No need to make your potential customers grumpy by flooding them with ads. I’ve bought at least 12 apps in the last three months. In two years of iphone use I bought maybe 3 total.

    People will buy your apps if they are useful. Some people won’t pay for ANYTHING, it’s a fact of life. No need to punish everyone else because of the cheapskates. And in at least my case, you’re only punishing yourself because I won’t tolerate it.

  • Dave Weinstein

    it’s not really about the in app ads… its more about mobile web browsing. we still pay by the byte for mobile data, and in addition to the ads being cumbersome, i particularly dislike the extra delays and costs from fetching them over the mobile network.

    google is usually very cool about not overreacting, but they seems to have overreached in this case.

  • yanotsomuch

    AdAway FTW?

  • http://twitter.com/matter37 Matthew

    Good

  • matt

    Or just use AdFree because it blocks by domain name by the hosts file.

    • Alvin Brinson

      The only issue with AdFree is that it requires root access. Not a problem for you or me, but potentially a problem for many users.