Named by analogy with the popup advertisement, its kin, the popbehind is a particularly insidious method of driving high numbers of impressions.

When you go to a site with popbehind ads, you won't notice anything odd at first. A few seconds later, a new program will appear on your taskbar (modulo your OS preference), but you won't see a new window pop up.

Some seconds after that, you will start getting popup ads several times per minute.

What's going on here?

The popbehind window acts as a factory for popup ads. It churns out new ads all the time, and tries to resurrect itself if you kill it. Killing it, however, is difficult because it uses many stupid JavaScript tricks to keep control of your system and prevent you from getting rid of the ads:

  • It moves itself to the screen position (10000,10000) -- that is, far off your desktop. Even if you click on the program in the taskbar, you can't see the popbehind.
  • It uses click traps to prevent you from using most functions that would allow you to view its source, see its URL, and so on.
  • It creates a new copy of itself as soon as you kill the old copy.

Who's behind this?

It can be difficult to find out which site fed you a popbehind, since they're designed to lay low for a while before activating. Some don't activate until you leave the site.

I've seen this behavior on different sites; some use Affiliate Target as their source of annoying ads, while others use Internet Fuel. Interestingly enough, the copyrighted code for each of these popbehinds is essentially the same -- but the copyright statements differ in name and year. It looks as if at least one of these popup spammers has an additional stupid human trick up their sleeve, namely copyright infringement.

How do I kill this freaking thing?

Close your browser completely. You may need to terminate the program rudely (with Ctrl-Alt-Del or the equivalent).

Alternative: Right-click on the master window in the Taskbar, then click Close. The name of the master window is just a bunch of blank spaces. You'll have to get good at killing these quickly, since you have to outrun the resurrection trick. This works only if you're fast enough with a mouse, but it lets you keep your legitimate windows open.

No, I meant *really* kill this freaking thing -- get it off the web.

You can always explain to the webmaster that it's extremely annoying, but I wouldn't expect much sympathy -- the webmaster earns money from this annoying problem.

Alternately, since the ad agencies supplying this malware perform an audit whenever the clickthrough rate goes above 1.5%, you could use a clicker like Caca to artificially inflate the site's clickthroughs. The audit that follows will reveal false clickthroughs and get the site's advertising money yanked.

You could do that, of course, but that would be mean. Almost as mean as, say, a popbehind.

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