If you've been to the New York Times site today, you might've seen something different. Maybe a dirty little ad claiming that your computer was infected popped up? Peter Kafka at All Things Digital did.
You generally have to travel farther down the Internet publishing food chain to find these kind of bogus ads - go hunting for porn and/or illegal downloads, for instance, and you'll find plenty of this stuff.
But Web advertising is still a wild and woolly place, and this type of thing still plagues high-end publishers too. Sometimes it's the fault of ad networks the publishers use to move their unsold inventory; sometimes the bogus ads are bought directly from the publishers themselves.
The malware ad looked like this:
Some NYTimes.com readers have seen a pop-up box warning them about a virus and directing them to a site that claims to offer antivirus software. We believe this was generated by an unauthorized advertisement and are working to prevent the problem from recurring. If you see such a warning, we suggest that you not click on it. Instead, quit and restart your Web browser. Questions and comments can be sent to email@example.com.
Don't click on the bad thing! For those of you who have, and got your computer infected, you should send the bill to the Times and see if they'll foot it. Meanwhile, Kafka points out that, yes, the Times should be lauded for at least acknowledging the fact that they might've screwed up and let something bad slip by. Then again, when was the last time you saw something like this on the Post's website? News problems: they happen. Also, could be worse: seeing Malware on the NYT website is at least more exciting than reading an article about BrickBreaker on it.