by February 5, 2002 0 comments



Advertising banners, script tickers and other advertising on the Web are used in abundance. However, we never seem to have enough bandwidth for regular surfing for information, leave alone viewing ads. Also, some ads and Web bugs are used to monitor and record user surfing patterns and other information like your geographical location, the websites you visit and credit-card information. Let’s see how you can add speed to your browsing and at the same time keep your online sessions private.

Ads and Web bugs
Ads also help collect user data. Web bugs are small, invisible graphics on a Web page that serve the purpose of tracking users’ browsing. The procedure of blocking ads and Web bugs is based on a simple concept. There is something called a ‘hosts’ file on the local machine, which stores domain name lookup entries to resolve domain names. If a particular entry does not exist there, the request is sent to a DNS. If we include entries corresponding to ad URLs in the hosts file and point the Web browser do the lookup there, the ads would not load. But there are so many of them and so how do you add all those entries? Well, some guys out there have done the good work for you. Go to
http://ssmedia.com/Utilities/hosts/. Here you have the option of uploading your hosts file and the entries are automatically appended to it. You can also manually add the entries, the list of which is at
http://ssmedia.com/Utilities/hosts/hosts.cfm?format=pc. Follow the instructions of adding entries to your proxy settings too so that they point to your local machine. Check out a couple of sites with loads of banner ads and you should visibly see the difference.

ActiveX and scripts
These are used to supposedly enhance user experience on the Web. They automate many tasks like download of additional components that are required for proper displaying of a Web page. However, they may also carry potential threats and unsafe scripts. Here is how to keep track and run only the code that you want to run within the browser. We will look at IE settings here though the process similar is for other browsers. Go to Tools>Internet Options. Go to the Security tab and click on Custom Level. This opens a window with the Security settings. Here you will find the settings for ActiveX controls and plugins, file downloads and scripting. The best bet is to set them to Prompt. However, this might become too bothersome at times because almost all Web pages use some sort of scripts anyway. So you may have to play around with them a bit before you get the right mix of settings.

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