What's That Widget Doing To Your Visitors?

from the problems-problems dept

It's become increasingly popular to stick various "widgets" on websites and blogs. These are tools or features provided by other providers, that can easily be placed on website with a little bit of javascript. One of the problems, though, is that you don't always know what these widgets are doing to your visitors. Of course, one of the most popular such widget is Google's AdSense code (which, yes, we use here as well). However, there were reports earlier this week that AdSense was prompting users to install some software for visitors using certain configurations. Google seems to have admitted that it was an accident that they've since fixed, but it's a good reminder that for sites that use many of these widgets, they potentially could be putting their visitors at risk without realizing it. Traditionally, people think of security as protecting their own computer, but perhaps site owners are going to start thinking of how to protect their visitors from security issues as well. It becomes tricky, because most people feel that certain sites that they visit are "safe," but it may be increasingly difficult to determine which sites are actually safe when you don't know who's providing all the various widgets -- or if those widgets have somehow been compromised.
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  • identicon
    EZDOEZIT, 18 Aug 2006 @ 2:29pm

    Widgets

    Just another net fad. Quiet frankly, I don't want to piss of my visitors by intruding "click to download" alerts.

    Has anyone ever thought of letting the user decide what they want to do without bonbardment?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Aug 2006 @ 2:41pm

      Re: Widgets

      of course ad companies wouldnt do that - it would deprive themselves of their chance to show you ads for ebay and the bookstore from nowhere - which of course we all know is the reason for the web in the first place, to show you annoying ads, not to give you useful content you actually want...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bart, 18 Aug 2006 @ 2:54pm

      Re: Widgets

      Bombardment, Bombardment, Bombardment, Bombardment, Bombardment.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ana, 19 Aug 2006 @ 6:13am

      Re: Widgets

      You´re right.
      Users don´t want to be "guided" like that. Those "widgets" just annoys people... and visitors go away.
      At least that´s what I do when I bump into that kind of stuff...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BillDivX, 18 Aug 2006 @ 2:41pm

    Unreliable

    that doesn't work because it's unreliable. It's perfectly obvious that no company, even with a great product, will ever stay in business if they don't lead us all to it like the good little sheep we are supposed to be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cyryl, 18 Aug 2006 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    GAY.

    First THIS you FAG!

    *kicks you in your immature mouth*

    Anyway...

    Widgets are cool and all but they leave us all open to code. It can come at us in different ways. The page can easily be changed by code that already exists in our cache. Usually by some kind of worm.

    People should be more careful... I keep telling people whos' computers I fix to SCAN, SCAN, SCAN!! But do they listen? NO.

    They are the reason that bugs and scripts are able to propagate themselves.

    THAT'S RIGHT ALL OF YOU COMMON, EVERY-DAY USERS!

    IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT.

    You lazy PILES.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dan, 18 Aug 2006 @ 4:04pm

      Re: Re:

      Yeah dude, just who are you talking (screaming) to?

      We're all techies here... hence the name TECHdirt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ana, 19 Aug 2006 @ 6:33am

      Re: Re:

      First things first: YOU DON"T HAVE TO YELL NOR INSULT PEOPLE HERE FOR WHAT THEY THINK.

      Now, Widgets can be fun and let users do interesting things, but normal user don"t like to "accept" to stuff that they don"t already know as safe.
      So in the best of cases, those stuff can slow the page"s loading time, and maybe your users don"t even want nor use that stuff.
      It"s all in your website"s style. Maybe people just want to enters and read it"s content. Just that.
      Widgets sometimes can be VERY annoying.

      It"s just my personal opinion. You don"t have to agree, you know.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Someone Else (A.K.A. Knot-Me), 18 Aug 2006 @ 2:52pm

    RE: Insane/overreactive post by Cyryl

    WOW... That was. Well, let's just say, overreactive, and a bit insane of a post -- go back on your meds, you are scaring the little children.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    EZDOEZIT, 18 Aug 2006 @ 2:56pm

    Good Little Sheep Here

    Jealous Cyryl? LOL

    Without all those "lazy PILES" most tech supporters would be out a job. Think of it as job security. You want your customers to be stupid.. don't you?

    As for me, not so much. My customers have to take ownership of the sites and programs I write for them... I don't get paid extra when they have a problem with something I build. A problem, I might add, that is of no fault of mine or the program's.

    And why is it that these people who know absolutely nothing about maintaining a website keep calling me to build them one? It doesn't matter.. after I complete my end of the deal, I change my phone number.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    firefox geek, 18 Aug 2006 @ 3:12pm

    firefox + adblock

    Don't want adsense, adware, popups, use firefox and adblock extension... Then really piss off the ad's, use linux so the worms don't propagate so easily either.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Aug 2006 @ 10:34pm

      Re: firefox + adblock

      NoScript works for me. Once I decide a site is relatively safe, its easily opened up, just as much as I want.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    rijit (profile), 18 Aug 2006 @ 3:31pm

    Bah, let's post another article to scare the uneducated on the net. Nothing wrong with gadgets, so long as you know where they are from, what they do, and how they are used. Just make sure they are from reputable people. Most gadgets are nothing but javascript or xml wrapped in javascript, a look through the code can show you hidden things, it is not rocket science. If you can't look through the code, perhaps you should pay someone to make your website who can look through it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nate K, 18 Aug 2006 @ 5:53pm

    Yea, rijit is right, just make sure they are from reputable people... like Google for instance... :-/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Methinks I need a vacation, 19 Aug 2006 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Here's the bottom line. The only way to have a secure PC, is to Unplug it from the Internet, Remove any wireless Network Adapters, Turn it off, and Lock it into a Steel Vault, putitng that Steel Vault into a Cement Vault, and burying it 6 feet underneath the topsoil at Cerns Memorial Gardens Cemetary. If you do that to your PC, I guarantee, no body will go through the trouble of digging it up to put bad WIDGET code on your system!

    bye!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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