Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging — Rick Moran @ 8:38 am

For many of you who use the Firefox browser to access this site, you may have found reading The House an impossibility over the last 10 days or so.

I ask your pardon. I was unaware of the problem until a reader emailed me and mentioned it. I was having problems accessing the site myself but I thought it was specific to my computer and not a general problem with viewing the website in Firefox (IE and Google Chrome were unaffected.). It seems that an insidious, unwelcome, unasked for, should-be-criminal script was surreptitiously installed in the sidebar of my blog and was wreaking havoc with visitor’s computers.

When clicking on the web address to The House, the site would appear briefly and then be redirected to something called B.scorecardresearch.com - except the script caused the site to hang forever leaving a blank page to look at. I tried to scrub it using every anti-spyware, anti-malware, anti-virus program I had - and some like Spybot I downloaded. Since I was unaware that the problem was a rogue, 3rd party script, the small piece of code laughed at my efforts to eradicate it. It sneered as I flailed about aimlessly, nearly weeping with frustration and anger, and vowing to take my revenge - if I ever managed to see my website again in Firefox.

A search revealed that b.scorecardresearch.com was a webtracking company, carefully monitoring my keystrokes and website visits. I discovered upon visiting its website that I might opt out of participating in this gangster company’s information gathering. After clicking the “opt out” link, I was told the cookie would be inoperative.

In this, they were correct - except the problem wasn’t with a cookie. The problem was that a script had been placed inside the blog infrastructure itself without my knowledge or permission. When I discovered that there were still problems with the site after opting out, I went to the Mozilla support forum and screamed for help.

The good geeks at Mozilla came through in spectacular fashion. First, Gerv identified the problem:

The sites which are having the problem include code from Technorati, which itself includes code from extreme-dm.com, which includes a reference to a script on the site b.scorecardresearch.com. For some reason, that script is not loading correctly, and it is not marked as inessential to the page, and so the page load is blocked.

This is an example of why including scripts from a 3rd party site in your website is a dangerous thing to do. Do you trust everyone that the owner of that script trusts?

So this is (probably) not a problem with Firefox.

Then a good bit of luck; an expert in Wordpress who had dealt with a similar problem on another website:

WP Specialist:

Had the same problem earlier with a client’s site. Do you have technorati called anywhere within your theme? Removing that from our site fixed the issue.

From some reading I did, it’s apparently the latest update of FireFox causing the issue. (Which explains why it’s okay in IE and Chrome) Some “tracking scripts” are running wrong and causing the redirect.

So, if you don’t have technorati going, trying disabling any of your java (i.e. twitter follow widgets)

Please let me know if this helped (because I’m curious). Good luck!

Sure enough, I accessed the blog innards and there it was - a script with “technorati” in the middle of it (I wish I had copied the script but was so excited to get rid of it I wasn’t thinking), sitting all by itself in my right hand sidebar, minding my business, not serving any purpose for the blog whatsoever. I removed it and all is well in blogland again.

I have no idea how that script got there. I certainly wasn’t asked to participate in any kind of program that would monitor my surfing habits. Did Technorati place it there? My meager knowledge of how such scripts are installed makes that an open question. I know that it wasn’t there previously since I had occasion to work on the sidebar code from time to time over the last 5 years. It could have been there for months or, given the recent problems with accessing the site, just a matter of days.

In the future, I will take no chances. I will no longer visit Technorati. And let this be a warning to everyone; no 3rd party scripts for your blog or browser. Unless you are absolutely sure what you are getting, it is best to steer clear of scripts from unknown sources.

I learned that lesson the hard way. I hope you don’t have to.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress