Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Ad networks, redirects, and assumptions

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Yesterday on 9to5mac, Benjamin Mayo reported that “unscrupulous website adverts” were redirecting users to the App Store from Safari on iOS. Posted along with the story were videos of multiple sites, including this one, redirecting the author to the App Store.

Here’s the thing, though: We only have a single JavaScript ad call on our site, and it goes to The Deck. So between myself and the Deck’s Jim Coudal, we know what’s on the pages of this site. And what Mayo shows Six Colors doing is something that it absolutely can’t do.

Mayo blames the issue on unscrupulous ad networks (while bizarrely absolving the websites in question of blame—trust me, publishers are responsible for the company they keep), but it’s unclear why he and other people are seeing this behavior.

If Mayo is seeing this behavior on Six Colors, though, we have to assume that something else is at work, such as:

  • Exploitation of a bug in Safari that puts the browser in a particular state even after it’s left a page contaminated with that code
  • JavaScript firing in a different Safari tab/window, making Mayo misapply blame for the behavior
  • Interception and rewriting of page code by a carrier, ISP, or even a compromised wireless router

It seems to me like perhaps Mayo should do a little more investigating on his story.

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