Flipboard Serves Potentially Malicious Ads

I have used the free Flipboard for several years to read the news on my iPhone and iPad. Yesterday, I came across a malicious ad in the Flipboard app.

Ad1

You may have seen these ads on websites with your browser, if you don’t use an ad blocker. They try to get you to visit sites that may try to download malware, or just try to scam you. Note that there’s no Cancel button; you have to force-quit the app to get away from it. Many people don’t know that, so they tap OK – since they don’t see any other choice – and wind up on questionable sites.

I tweeted to Flipboard’s Twitter account, and they replied:

Flipboard tweet

This “questionable source” was one that was in Flipboard’s own Movies category, not some random site that I selected. I use several of Flipboard’s categories, which are probably created by algorithms, because they give me a decent overview of the news.

The Flipboard app should be blocking pop-ups, like every web browser can do. This was the first time I’d seen this type of ad in Flipboard, so either something has changed in the app, or advertisers have figured out a way to get through any blocking they may have.

But it happened again this morning. I saw this when I tapped an article; nothing of the actual article even displayed, just the pop-up:

1d2

This is another type of common ad that pop-up blockers can eliminate.

I don’t trust the Flipboard app any more. You should be very careful if you continue to use it; I’m going to find another way to read the news on my iOS devices.

Update: It was pointed out to me that this article is currently the lead in Flipboard’s Apple News topic. One has to appreciate the irony…

Irony

20 thoughts on “Flipboard Serves Potentially Malicious Ads

  1. I miss Zite. Never had that with Zite at all. But Flipboard bought it and killed it. It Isis make Flipboard’s engine better but I’ve been annoyed with all the popups. Not only does it make it hard to read many articles but as you point out, can be potentially malicious. Thanks for taking Flipboard to task and I hope they do something.

      • ZITE was a joy to use. Always looked forward to opening it, usually about lunchtime. It sourced so many great articles that I often had too much stuff to read! Still got it installed on my iPhone, but like a car with its motor ripped out it simply sits there doing nothing. Flipboard are absolute cretins for not only destroying a perfectly good news-aggregating news app but substituting their own pathetic attempt at gathering news and articles. May it die sooner rather than later…

  2. I miss Zite. Never had that with Zite at all. But Flipboard bought it and killed it. It Isis make Flipboard’s engine better but I’ve been annoyed with all the popups. Not only does it make it hard to read many articles but as you point out, can be potentially malicious. Thanks for taking Flipboard to task and I hope they do something.

      • ZITE was a joy to use. Always looked forward to opening it, usually about lunchtime. It sourced so many great articles that I often had too much stuff to read! Still got it installed on my iPhone, but like a car with its motor ripped out it simply sits there doing nothing. Flipboard are absolute cretins for not only destroying a perfectly good news-aggregating news app but substituting their own pathetic attempt at gathering news and articles. May it die sooner rather than later…

  3. This also occurred for me but on Topix using Safari. The ad blocker didn’t work to stop it and this went on for several days. It’s hellaciously aggravating to say the least but probably not Flipboards fault.
    I too was a big time fane of Zite. It was a terrific experience and always seem to know when I needed to kickback. It appropriately provided me with a link to some soft porn.

  4. This also occurred for me but on Topix using Safari. The ad blocker didn’t work to stop it and this went on for several days. It’s hellaciously aggravating to say the least but probably not Flipboards fault.
    I too was a big time fane of Zite. It was a terrific experience and always seem to know when I needed to kickback. It appropriately provided me with a link to some soft porn.

  5. Thank you for alerting your users and followers to this type of threat. However, you should just alert them to the whole picture.

    It’s always a good idea to keep your browser and phone security up to date.

    Remember that ANY link or URL which contains an “=” equal mark, or a “?” question mark will contain potentially malicious content. You would be surprised where Safenetting and Spamcop agents find potentially malicious content . . . places like Forbes.com, ZDnet.com, to name just two found this week.

    It’s always a good idea to hover the cursor over the link and see where it goes before clicking.

    When you arrive at such a site, immediately click the browser’s “reader” icon to read just the content.

    http://www.ugnn.com/safenetting/ALERTS/avoiding-stalker-sites.png

    • This is, as I pointed out, happening in Flipboard, not in a web browser. I use an ad blocker on my iOS devices, so I wouldn’t see these if I were using Safari. The issue here is that ad blockers don’t work in apps, and Flipboard therefore needs to make sure this type of ad cannot display in their app.

  6. Thank you for alerting your users and followers to this type of threat. However, you should just alert them to the whole picture.

    It’s always a good idea to keep your browser and phone security up to date.

    Remember that ANY link or URL which contains an “=” equal mark, or a “?” question mark will contain potentially malicious content. You would be surprised where Safenetting and Spamcop agents find potentially malicious content . . . places like Forbes.com, ZDnet.com, to name just two found this week.

    It’s always a good idea to hover the cursor over the link and see where it goes before clicking.

    When you arrive at such a site, immediately click the browser’s “reader” icon to read just the content.

    http://www.ugnn.com/safenetting/ALERTS/avoiding-stalker-sites.png

    • This is, as I pointed out, happening in Flipboard, not in a web browser. I use an ad blocker on my iOS devices, so I wouldn’t see these if I were using Safari. The issue here is that ad blockers don’t work in apps, and Flipboard therefore needs to make sure this type of ad cannot display in their app.

  7. I too have become discusted with the frequency of these annoying ads forcing a shutdown and restart of Flipboard to continue using it. This phenomenon is fairly new to the app and is getting increasingly frequent while using it. I will find another way to aggregate my daily news. Goodby Flipboard.

  8. I too have become discusted with the frequency of these annoying ads forcing a shutdown and restart of Flipboard to continue using it. This phenomenon is fairly new to the app and is getting increasingly frequent while using it. I will find another way to aggregate my daily news. Goodby Flipboard.

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