Ad and Counter Blocking|
By Thiravudh Khoman
Here's something I recently implemented on my Windows machine that helps speed up web browsing a bit. (Note: This NOT an original idea, not by a long shot.)
When you give your web browser a URL such as https://www.yahoo.com, the usual way this name is "resolved" or converted into a numerical IP address is by the use of DNS servers. On smaller networks that run TCP/IP (such as on a local area network), it's not necessary to use a full-blown DNS server to do name resolution. Instead, you can compile a list of IP addresses and domain names and put them into a file called HOSTS. All TCP/IP-capable operating systems, regardless of whether they're running DOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, or whatever CAN make use of this HOSTS file.
On Windows machines, this file is usually located in C:\Windows, while on other O/S'es it's located elsewhere. (If I remember correctly, with Linux it's in /etc. Not sure where it's located on a Mac, but probably in one of the system folders.) Chances are, though, on most Windows machines you won't find an existing HOSTS file; instead, you'll find a HOSTS.SAM file which is merely a "sample" HOSTS file. You can copy HOSTS.SAM to HOSTS to get a barebones start.
The format of the HOSTS file is very simple. Each line contains an IP address, some white space (usually a tab), and then a domain name associated with that IP addresss. In most HOSTS files, you will also see a rather odd entry: 127.0.0.1 localhost. "localhost" is a generic name given to YOUR computer and 127.0.0.1 is the dummy IP address assigned to this name. In actual fact, ALL computers on the internet have this entry, and because 127.0.0.1 is one of those magic non routable IP addresses, it will never exist on the real internet, thus avoiding any possibility of address conflicts.
More often than not, localhost is used for "loopback" testing; e.g. to see if your TCP/IP is working properly. Try it. Type: ping localhost. On my machine, this is the output I get.
Pinging thirav.eug.or.home.com [127.0.0.1] with 32 bytes of data:
Reply from 127.0.0.1: bytes=32 time<10ms TTL=128
Ping statistics for 127.0.0.1:
With no lost packets, my computer is deemed able to communicate with "localhost", as it very well should, since I'm just ping'ing my own computer.
Now, if you have a functioning HOSTS file, TCP/IP can use BOTH the HOSTS file AND your duly assigned DNS servers, which is what I've done. To be precise, I've entered the names of some "undesirable servers" and assigned them the magic IP number 127.0.0.1, meaning from the standpoint of MY computer, those domain names now exist locally (although their content doesn't). Needless to say, this doesn't affect any other computer on the internet.
At present, this is what my HOSTS file looks like:
127.0.0.1 localhost 127.0.0.1 ads.mweb.co.th 127.0.0.1 ads2.mweb.co.th 127.0.0.1 usa.nedstat.net 127.0.0.1 pop3.norton.antivirus 127.0.0.1 pop3.spa.norton.antivirus 127.0.0.1 207-87-18-203.wsmg.digex.net 127.0.0.1 Garden.ngadcenter.net 127.0.0.1 Ogilvy.ngadcenter.net 127.0.0.1 ResponseMedia-ad.flycast.com 127.0.0.1 Suissa-ad.flycast.com 127.0.0.1 UGO.eu-adcenter.net 127.0.0.1 VNU.eu-adcenter.net 127.0.0.1 a32.g.a.yimg.com 127.0.0.1 ad-adex3.flycast.com 127.0.0.1 ad.adsmart.net 127.0.0.1 ad.ca.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 ad.de.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 ad.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 ad.fr.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 ad.jp.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 ad.linkexchange.com 127.0.0.1 ad.linksynergy.com 127.0.0.1 ad.nl.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 ad.no.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 ad.preferences.com 127.0.0.1 ad.sma.punto.net 127.0.0.1 ad.uk.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 ad.webprovider.com 127.0.0.1 ad08.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 adcontroller.unicast.com 127.0.0.1 adcreatives.imaginemedia.com 127.0.0.1 adex3.flycast.com 127.0.0.1 adforce.ads.imgis.com 127.0.0.1 adforce.imgis.com 127.0.0.1 adfu.blockstackers.com 127.0.0.1 adimage.blm.net 127.0.0.1 adimages.earthweb.com 127.0.0.1 adimg.egroups.com 127.0.0.1 admedia.xoom.com 127.0.0.1 adpick.switchboard.com 127.0.0.1 adremote.pathfinder.com 127.0.0.1 ads.admaximize.com 127.0.0.1 ads.bfast.com 127.0.0.1 ads.clickhouse.com 127.0.0.1 ads.enliven.com 127.0.0.1 ads.fairfax.com.au 127.0.0.1 ads.fool.com 127.0.0.1 ads.freshmeat.net 127.0.0.1 ads.hollywood.com 127.0.0.1 ads.i33.com 127.0.0.1 ads.infi.net 127.0.0.1 ads.jwtt3.com 127.0.0.1 ads.link4ads.com 127.0.0.1 ads.lycos.com 127.0.0.1 ads.madison.com 127.0.0.1 ads.mediaodyssey.com 127.0.0.1 ads.msn.com 127.0.0.1 ads.ninemsn.com.au 127.0.0.1 ads.seattletimes.com 127.0.0.1 ads.smartclicks.com 127.0.0.1 ads.smartclicks.net 127.0.0.1 ads.sptimes.com 127.0.0.1 ads.tripod.com 127.0.0.1 ads.web.aol.com 127.0.0.1 ads.x10.com 127.0.0.1 ads.xtra.co.nz 127.0.0.1 ads.zdnet.com 127.0.0.1 ads01.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads02.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads03.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads04.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads05.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads06.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads08.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads09.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads1.activeagent.at 127.0.0.1 ads10.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads11.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads12.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads14.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads16.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads17.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads18.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads19.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads2.zdnet.com 127.0.0.1 ads20.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads21.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads22.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads23.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads24.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads25.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ads3.zdnet.com 127.0.0.1 ads3.zdnet.com 127.0.0.1 ads5.gamecity.net 127.0.0.1 adserv.iafrica.com 127.0.0.1 adserv.quality-channel.de 127.0.0.1 adserver.dbusiness.com 127.0.0.1 adserver.garden.com 127.0.0.1 adserver.janes.com 127.0.0.1 adserver.merc.com 127.0.0.1 adserver.monster.com 127.0.0.1 adserver.track-star.com 127.0.0.1 adserver1.ogilvy-interactive.de 127.0.0.1 adtegrity.spinbox.net 127.0.0.1 antfarm-ad.flycast.com 127.0.0.1 au.ads.link4ads.com 127.0.0.1 banner.media-system.de 127.0.0.1 banner.orb.net 127.0.0.1 banner.relcom.ru 127.0.0.1 banners.easydns.com 127.0.0.1 banners.looksmart.com 127.0.0.1 banners.wunderground.com 127.0.0.1 barnesandnoble.bfast.com 127.0.0.1 beseenad.looksmart.com 127.0.0.1 bizad.nikkeibp.co.jp 127.0.0.1 bn.bfast.com 127.0.0.1 c3.xxxcounter.com 127.0.0.1 califia.imaginemedia.com 127.0.0.1 cds.mediaplex.com 127.0.0.1 click.avenuea.com 127.0.0.1 click.go2net.com 127.0.0.1 click.linksynergy.com 127.0.0.1 cookies.cmpnet.com 127.0.0.1 cornflakes.pathfinder.com 127.0.0.1 counter.hitbox.com 127.0.0.1 crux.songline.com 127.0.0.1 erie.smartage.com 127.0.0.1 etad.telegraph.co.uk 127.0.0.1 fp.valueclick.com 127.0.0.1 gadgeteer.pdamart.com 127.0.0.1 gm.preferences.com 127.0.0.1 gp.dejanews.com 127.0.0.1 hg1.hitbox.com 127.0.0.1 image.click2net.com 127.0.0.1 image.eimg.com 127.0.0.1 images2.nytimes.com 127.0.0.1 jobkeys.ngadcenter.net 127.0.0.1 kansas.valueclick.com 127.0.0.1 leader.linkexchange.com 127.0.0.1 liquidad.narrowcastmedia.com 127.0.0.1 ln.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 m.doubleclick.net 127.0.0.1 macaddictads.snv.futurenet.com 127.0.0.1 maximumpcads.imaginemedia.com 127.0.0.1 media.preferences.com 127.0.0.1 mercury.rmuk.co.uk 127.0.0.1 mojofarm.sjc.mediaplex.com 127.0.0.1 nbc.adbureau.net 127.0.0.1 newads.cmpnet.com 127.0.0.1 ng3.ads.warnerbros.com 127.0.0.1 ngads.smartage.com 127.0.0.1 nsads.hotwired.com 127.0.0.1 ntbanner.digitalriver.com 127.0.0.1 ph-ad05.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ph-ad07.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ph-ad16.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ph-ad17.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 ph-ad18.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 rd.yahoo.com 127.0.0.1 realads.realmedia.com 127.0.0.1 redherring.ngadcenter.net 127.0.0.1 redirect.click2net.com 127.0.0.1 regio.adlink.de 127.0.0.1 retaildirect.realmedia.com 127.0.0.1 s2.focalink.com 127.0.0.1 sh4sure-images.adbureau.net 127.0.0.1 spin.spinbox.net 127.0.0.1 static.admaximize.com 127.0.0.1 stats.superstats.com 127.0.0.1 sview.avenuea.com 127.0.0.1 thinknyc.eu-adcenter.net 127.0.0.1 tracker.clicktrade.com 127.0.0.1 tsms-ad.tsms.com 127.0.0.1 v0.extreme-dm.com 127.0.0.1 v1.extreme-dm.com 127.0.0.1 van.ads.link4ads.com 127.0.0.1 view.accendo.com 127.0.0.1 view.avenuea.com 127.0.0.1 w113.hitbox.com 127.0.0.1 w25.hitbox.com 127.0.0.1 web2.deja.com 127.0.0.1 webads.bizservers.com 127.0.0.1 www.PostMasterBannerNet.com 127.0.0.1 www.ad-up.com 127.0.0.1 www.admex.com 127.0.0.1 www.alladvantage.com 127.0.0.1 www.burstnet.com 127.0.0.1 www.commission-junction.com 127.0.0.1 www.eads.com 127.0.0.1 www.freestats.com 127.0.0.1 www.imaginemedia.com 127.0.0.1 www.netdirect.nl 127.0.0.1 www.oneandonlynetwork.com 127.0.0.1 www.targetshop.com 127.0.0.1 www.teknosurf2.com 127.0.0.1 www.teknosurf3.com 127.0.0.1 www.valueclick.com 127.0.0.1 www.websitefinancing.com 127.0.0.1 www2.burstnet.com 127.0.0.1 www4.trix.net 127.0.0.1 www80.valueclick.com 127.0.0.1 z.extreme-dm.com 127.0.0.1 z0.extreme-dm.com 127.0.0.1 z1.extreme-dm.com
My HOSTS file is actually broken down into 3 sections. The first section (containing 4 lines at present), aside from the localhost entry, contains the sites of undesirable sites that *I* have compiled. The next section, set off by a blank line, contains 2 lines inserted by Norton Anti-Virus (NAV) that's used for email virus scanning. If you don't use NAV, leave this out. The last section is a list of undesirables obtained from https://www.ecst.csuchico.edu/~atman/spam/adblock.shtml, which is the source of this how-to. I highly suggest that you take a trip there and read the article.
Now, EXACTLY what are these sites? Basically, they fall into two categories:
If you wish to add to the of list of "undesirables", you can do two things: a) Try and remember any "suspect" web sites that pop on your browser status line. This is pretty hard to do though since they pop up so fast. b) Peruse the HTML source code of a site's home page. This too isn't very satisfactory since it's a hassle and also because several pages may be loaded in succession and you will only be able to look at the last one.
Sigh, I wish there was a utility which could log ALL sites/pages accessed, when you visit a site, but so far I haven't found one. I've tried some "Spyware" programs, but these tend to log only the URL that you request, not all the URLs that are associated with the site.
While the abovementioned blocking technique should work to some benefit, there are at least two instances I can think of where it's powerless to do anything:
One final note. You can also use the above technique to prevent people from going to certain sites (same idea, right?). For example, if I were to add 127.0.0.1 www.playboy.com to my HOSTS file, no one using my computer could go there. (Of course, why would *I* want to do that?) But you get my point. Do realize though, that this is hardly a foolproof trick. A knowledgeable computer person could bypass this easily. But in certain situations, it's a cheap alternative to "baby sitter" software like NetNanny or Surfwatch.