Every so often we will receive a call or email from a client asking about text links they’ve found around one or more words that appear in a page or post within their site. While we do often place cross-links on one page to related content on another page, these offending links appear to be adverts and/or go to other sites, sometimes bad sites.
The most common first thought is that something bad has happened to the site. However, when we investigate, we are unable to duplicate the issue – we do not see the offending link in our browsers or in the actual code.
So, what’s up with that? Why is the client seeing it, but we are not? Is the client or the person that reported it, wrong or just plain nuts?
No, not necessarily!
The first thing to do is to check the page/post from a different browser or different computer. If the issue goes away, then what is most likely is that the browser or computer is being affected by some adware/malware, the most common is called Text Enhance, although others include Kontera, TopText, Spedia Surf+ & Intellitxt. Some versions of MS Internet Explorer actually included this feature in their code. Fortunately, it can be removed thru upgrades and/or MSIE security settings.
Infected users usually notice webpages have links or hover links with certain spam advertisements and information in a pop up window. This insidious adware does not infect websites, it infects individual users. If you see text advertisements on a website then you are infected, not the website.
Text Enhance is a form of adware which attaches itself to internet browsers as an extension and cookie without user consent. It is an equal opportunity adware as it can infect FireFox, Chrome, Explorer and Safari and it can masquerade by many extension names.
TextEnhance, Kontura, TopText, & Spedia Surf all appear to leave code bits on the infected users’ computer. Unlike Text Enhance, Kontera, TopText and SpediaSurf are a bit more involved to eradicate and you may want to seek out the assistance of your favourite PC/network geek (if you’re in the Grand Rapids metro area we can recommend someone). Spedia doesn’t appear to be around much anymore. TopText may also go by a few other names including, HotTest and ContextPro). Intellitxt does NOT appear to install anything on the users’ computer so your best bet is to AdBlock it.
In the short term, you can install/use an AdBlock add-on for your browser and block all of them. Blocking them, however, doesn’t get rid of the code they’ve left on your computer.