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Norton Internet Security includes Personal Firewall - PF blocks everything!

 6:10 pm on Jan 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure if you know about this because I couldn't see a thread anywhere...

In the advanced settings of Norton, there is a list of URL strings that cause a URL to be blocked....

Here's part of them:


and others:

Adsense is displaying but it is unclickable.
Basically any banners with the sie of 468X60 are blocked.

I don't like it!



 7:42 pm on Feb 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

martinibuster OOOOOPPPPPS. I should have read the TOS before posting that. Sorry, I'm busted by the buster ;-)

The thing that bothers me the MOST about this is all the non-savvy surfers who are getting Norton products because they are AFRAID. They are afraid of spam, spyware, viruses and all the other web nasties so are buying the software for protection. I believe most do not even know ad blocking is on by default and that it is changing and deleting content.

Many of these people may want to buy online and may not even mind plain old banners and text links. But since the ad blocking is on by default many of them don't even know the software is the reason pages look funny and links don't work. If Norton would just turn blocking OFF as the default and also inform users right up front that the blocker could negatively affect navigation and change page content, I would not mind so much. I just think too many people are affected without their consent or knowledge of how badly Norton changes and strips content.


 9:29 pm on Feb 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

When I tried Norton IS, it still left the banner link in place, but no graphic to go with it. So if the user clicks on a white area of the page, say to collapse their right-click menu or something, they may get whisked away to the advertiser's site without even realizing the link was there in the first place. And of course your site then gets the blame for causing undesirable behavior . . .


 12:10 am on Feb 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

When I tried Norton IS
While reading about this situation at various places to learn to deal with it, it appears there have been several versions of NIS released. More significantly, each newer version seems to become more effective/aggressive at blocking ads. It's important to mention what version you use (or tried) when discussing the product! If someone posts, "NIS does this!" and another someone posts, "No it doesn't!" and they are not using the same version, it sure muddies the water when trying to find a workaround... :)

Caution shameless editorial follows
AFAIK, most of the scumware/thiefware companies are still in business and still feeding traffic to various PPC companies, so IMHO, it's unrealistic to expect a lawsuit to be much help with this issue. So far, I haven't encountered a legal argument that I felt had much merit.

Also, NIS is something surfers want. As Catalyst said, they're scared and cautious. As a surfer, I block lots of stuff too, it's called survival! :) It's ironic but webmasters created the demand for a product like NIS through excessive advertising and pop-ups, simple greed. Not all of us of course, but enough of us. "One bad apple..." as they say, and we have more than one, many more.
End editorial

So far, I've "fixed" two of my sites so they display everything. AdSense ads display but AdSense links are still disabled. A javascript banner rotator I used was also disabled, so I simply substituted a fixed banner. I don't speak JS so I'm uncertain how to deal with NIS blocking JS, or if it can be circumvented.

There are three things you will need to do to make an affiliate ad work on your site in spite of NIS 2004:
1. Serve your banners from your server, not from an affiliate network server. Don't put them in a folder that's on the list in msg 1 of this thread, use a very generic folder name like "images."
2. Remove height and width attributes from your banner image code.
3. Link your banners to a script on your site that redirects banner clicks to your affiliate code. I used a little Perl to do this. At this point I'm not certain if or how it will effect cookies.

The scripting is very simple, PHP and other languages would probably work just as well. A search for "banner tracking" at hotscripts.com yielded 30+ scripts. Many of them include the necessary redirection code. FWIW


 5:29 pm on Feb 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Another issue are pop-ups. I have a pop-up blocker enabled in the browser I'm using (Netscape 7.1) because I hate it when windows pop up when I don't expect it. There are even sites which generate pop-up windows in a very aggressive manner - once you close these pop-up windows they will open automatically again. In any case, what is your point of view on pop-up windows?


 5:38 pm on Feb 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

ronin wrote:

stripping the adverts without being willing to pay to read the content oneself is just selfish.

I agree, for the most part. Still, aggressive ad blocking probably wouldn't be NIS's default behavior if advertisers hadn't poisoned the well with popups, popunders, interstitials, flashing banners, banners that look like Windows error messages, and so on. Too many advertisers go for quick results without thinking about the long-term consequences. (That's also true of publishers that promote annoying ad formats to advertisers.)


 2:44 pm on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

DaveAtIFG wrote,...so IMHO, it's unrealistic to expect a lawsuit to be much help with this issue. So far, I haven't encountered a legal argument that I felt had much merit."

I have an affiliate site (it's a legitimate, convenient comparative shopping site with many critical and informative articles that any user would value-- grant me this stipulation, as it's true). It's targeted for the key phrase widget applications. I will be dipped in poop if Norton's unilaterally and arrogantly blocking the user from landing on the sought-for links on such a site isn't restraint of trade or some other offense because it's clear to anybody with the IQ of a house plant that that's what the user was looking for.

Sorry, but this issue needs to be jumped on by a posse of lawyers.


 3:08 pm on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you offered a magazine screening service that provided 4-color reporoductions of magazines with all ads whited-out, and you didn't compensate the original publisher in any manner, you would be blatantly guilty of copyright violations.

So why is there any question about software that repackages copyrighted websites to do the same?


 3:17 pm on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Also, NIS is something surfers want.

And I'd like to tear down all those billboards I see on the ride to work but they are not mine to mess with ;-)



 3:34 pm on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

That's the kind of correct, spot-on arugument that shows Norton's action for what it is. Their intent may be admirable-- to help the user's experience, but it's uniinformed and just plain dumb. Those garish roadside billboards are often an eyesore, but they are usually on private property.

I suspect that, as we speak, the lawyers for CJ, LinkShare and everybody else who might be destroyed by this silliness are meeting to plan their attack.

And this issue seems so far to be getting under we webmasters' radar (not many posts on this string). I'm glad I clicked on DaveAtIFG's innocuous-looking little link on another thread and found out about this issue. Thanks, Dave. This is huge.


 3:47 pm on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Their intent may be admirable-- to help the user's experience, but it's uniinformed and just plain dumb.

I agree. The intent is good and I do hate some of the ways webmasters go about their advertising.

One other thing that most people don't talk about is that since the referrer is blocked it makes it hard to know a lot of things from log analysis anymore. Things like what a user was searching for to get to your site or whether sites that you may have link exchanges with are sending you traffic.

It's not just the ads. It's some basic reporting that can be used to better the user experience. It's basic reporting that can help a web site to know where to spend, or not spend, money on certain keywords. Some business decisions are based on this information and it's skewed now. It wasn't perfect before but it's certainly not getting any better.

I think the correct thing to do is leave things alone. If a site pounds me with pop-ups, or whatever else I don't like, I just don't go there anymore.



 6:32 pm on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

If you offered a magazine screening service that provided 4-color reporoductions of magazines with all ads whited-out, and you didn't compensate the original publisher in any manner, you would be blatantly guilty of copyright violations.

Very very good point.

The bottom line is that any software that defaces a copyrighted website is guilty of copyright violations.


 10:09 pm on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

So, someone mentioned a software that prevents Norton from doing this...Then there must be a way we can prevent norton from doing that with some sort of code in our pages, or on the server?

What if the adsense code was contained in another external .js file? Would that break google's TOS and would it prevent Norton from recognizing it?


 10:43 pm on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

Or, if you can add a mod_rewrite that says "Blocked by Norton" couldn't you also add a mod_rewrite that just re-writes the same ad code on your webpage, and norton would be none the wiser?


 5:15 pm on Feb 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

We can probably organize a class action suit. I would suggest that all those interested go to this page
and fill out the form there to get the interest of one of firms. If enough people make the request, a firm will pick this up and go with it. After all, the damages can be significant. Based on just 1 million pages not being exposed at $1/day of lost income, that amounts to a $365 million damage claim per year, and we all know that the numbers are much higher.
To make it easier for you, here is a description to enter into the form:

Symamtec Corporation publishes a program called Norton Internet Security, which, by DEFAULT, removes all advertising banners and text links from any Web page visited. The user of the program is not aware of this process. As a result, Web site owners that rely on revenue from advertising are losing revenue. If just 1 million web pages across the Internet lost just $1 per day in advertising revenue, we're talking about $1 Million per DAY in lost revenue, or $365 million per year. The actual figures are probably 100 times that.

We would like two things:
1. for Symantec to release updates and future versions with this feature as an option, instead of a default
2. damages for all suit members amortized back to the first publish date of the program.

We have an active association Web site which can assist in the formulation of this suit.

A demo of exactly what the affects are is at this location:
where you can switch back and forth between what the page would look like with and without Norton turned on.

In addition to the restriction of trade, this program alters copyrighted published material by deleting and removing links and graphics from web pages without the publisher's consent.

The category in the scroll down box should be Unfair Business Practices

If you want to modify this etxt and re-post, please feel free to do so.

If this proceeds forward, the mods here should consider a separate section for administration of just this topic. In fact, if this posting is too far down in this thread, please move it to where more people can see it. This affects enough of us that we should DO something proactive rather than allow Symentec to take money from our pockets. Let's make something happen. I already submitted by request. Please submit yours ASAP.

[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 4:50 pm (utc) on Feb. 28, 2004]
[edit reason] DeLinked URLs [/edit]


 6:03 pm on Feb 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>So far, I've "fixed" two of my sites so they display everything.

Norton's only one of many companies using countless methods for blocking ads--some ISPs are even offering it.

Instead of hopeless calls to action, simply optimize or "fix" your site(s) for the popular ad-blockers just like one must "fix" for Netscape 4.3. You're a step ahead of the clueless competition when NIS users come calling. AdSense is the only issue that I can't resolve, but that's Google's problem.

Banning NIS users, that's funny--and makes as much sense as banning Googlebot.


 6:14 pm on Feb 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google's Probem? Give me a break ... are you trying to produce revenue for your site or not? It's YOUR problem if the ads don't appear and your viewers can't click through. That's money YOU are losing.

I'm confused by the comments on this forum. Are you folks Webmasters trying to make money for your sites or are you home users surfing around? Some people posting here even LIKE the fact the NIS blocks ads. If you are trying to make money, that's a really dumb comment.


 7:02 pm on Feb 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google & I are both missing out on a little revenue, but what I meant by 'Google's problem' is that they're aware of it, and there's nothing I can do to fix it.

I sell ad space to Google, most of which I have no control over, and yes as a consumer I use and like the fact that NIS blocks most retina-burn, flashing banner ads. It's unfortunate that the more palatable AdSense ads get thrown out with the slime, but when I have the plastic out, I disable NIS anyway.

I do agree that NIS does render some sites almost unusable, but so do alternate browsers in some cases, so I fault the Webmaster for being lazy or incompetent. It's not a difficult fix--good idea for a new thread.

I also agree they might save some dough on attorney fees if NIS shipped with ad-blocking disabled by default.


 7:28 pm on Feb 27, 2004 (gmt 0)


Hooray. You win the award for the best pro-active suggestion I have seen to date on the issue. And with your permission I will spread your copy and idea around. I will update my Norton Blocks page with it this weekend and I think WebProNews is going to be doing a story featuring my page and some of my posts about the issue on another forum, so hopefully we can get a grassroots movement going.

skipfactor said: "I do agree that NIS does render some sites almost unusable, but so do alternate browsers in some cases, so I fault the Webmaster for being lazy or incompetent. It's not a difficult fix--good idea for a new thread."

No it's not an easy fix like working around browser issues. Not at all! I know a company that has been working on a program for weeks to unblock the blocks and
numerous people are beta testing and it's still not finished. It is not something individual webmasters can just code around, especially if they have numerous affiliate programs from various networks. And especially if they want to be sure what ever they do to bypass Norton does not also interfere somehow with tracking, cookies or commissions.

Thanks! Linda


 2:01 am on Feb 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think it makes perfect sense to ban NIS users. The reality is, I can't keep providing content on my websites for free. Advertising is a way to keep the website up and allow me to maintain the site.

If someone comes to the site blocking all the ads, they are in no way contributing to my site. Lets put it this way - If they're using NIS and already blocking my ads, I won't generate a nickel from their visit. So why should they be able to view the site? Either way they aren't contributing to my bottome line. I would just put in a mod_rewrite that lets the user know that in order to view the website, they must disable the ad blocking feature in NIS. Make a page explaining the NIS situation and how to disable the ad blocking 'feature'.

If they run into that problem enough times, chances are they'll turn off the ad blocker all together.


 9:14 am on Feb 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

are you trying to produce revenue for your site or not? It's YOUR problem if the ads don't appear and your viewers can't click through. That's money YOU are losing.

If I'm not mistaken, unless your site has a huge traffic, you are in the region of 50 Euro per year of advertising income. Even if you got 50 Euro per month, that would still be peanuts.

Which is why on my site (huge travel photography site) there is no advertising. I make money from selling the images. There are no annoying flashing advertising banners around.


 11:29 am on Feb 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

NIS that I am using (Firewall 2004) is not blocking AdSense adverts by standard. It does not block the Google AdWords links or the the AdSense links.

What it does do, however, is block certain strings (in the first post) from being a link. It is up to the AdWords advertisers to change their links.

Everyone is of the assumption that Norton is hiding the fact that their packages have advert blocking. They are not. They are advertising it, it is on the boxes of the products and the manual covers it in depth.


 9:37 pm on Feb 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't think anyone thinks that the ad blocking is 'hidden' as they do advertise that function. What's frustrating is that it's on by default, and that it doesn't have the most user-friendly way of de-activating that feature.


 8:30 pm on Mar 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

I just spoke with a CJ (Commission Junction) rep and they are aware of the problem. In fact, they said they are talking with Norton about it in hopes of getting off the Norton banned list. This CJ rep seemed to think that not that many people were using the ad-blocker (yet) and so it was not that big of an impact for affiliates and merchants (yet).


 12:36 am on Mar 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi, Keyplyr,

You said by adding this line to .htaccess can preventing norton blocking adsense

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^Blocked\ by\ Norton [NC,OR]

How about other similar products?



 11:36 am on Mar 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Re: fixes for websites...
It may be that we can fix our sites, but its not right that the actions of one company can cause all this extra work. Its bad enough having to keep checking the code on sites every time a new browser update is released.

Fixing sites is like getting a newspaper in bits and then having to glue the pages together in order yourself and then go on a hunt for the bits that are missing.

(Well not quite but it'll do for a rant).


 11:55 am on Mar 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Fixing sites is like getting a newspaper in bits and then having to glue the pages together in order yourself and then go on a hunt for the bits that are missing.

How about printing a magazine, but the mail service cuts them all up during delivery, so you have to begin printing on steel pages? ;)


 5:26 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

For CJ and others that think this problem is not that wide spread or that Norton's market share is not that far reaching - think again!

March 1, '04 Symantec press release:“Symantec Security Software Ships on Nine of the Top 10 Notebook Computers Worldwide... and sales of notebooks have now surpassed those of desktops…” www.symantec.com/press/2004

I am writing an article about all the specific issues that make Norton liable for potential damages.

I show lot of examples, have links to this forum and all the other forums discussing this issue. PLUS I have found 3 software fixes to prevent Norton blocking and will be in the article.

SO PLEASE - if anyone has any new info, has discovered any other fixes or happens to read my page and sees any typos or anything that needs to be changed - let me know before all these articles go out so I can be sure to let everyone know the very latest info.


[edited by: eljefe3 at 2:03 am (utc) on Mar. 11, 2004]
[edit reason] content [/edit]


 2:46 pm on Mar 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hi Linda,

Can you sticky me your findings on the Norton’s issue?

I have several new computers (purchased Jan 2004)... two laptops and two desktops. All 4 shipped with Norton’s adblocking enabled.

I am getting very strange results. On one of the laptops and one desktop w/ adblocking enabled no adwords ads will display at all. All titles and links are trashed. On the other new laptop and the second new desktop w/ adblocking enabled only selected adwords fail to display, all of which happen to be my ads mixed with a couple others.

Searching for widgets produces 10 ads… and out of the 10 ads only two are blocked (one of which is mine)

I was using a tracking url with my adwords that may have contained a banned word in the url, but I removed that and pointed the url directly to the homepage (which is static html) still cant get the ads to display. I cleared all cookies, temp files, and anything else I could think of and still nothing as long as adblocking is enabled.

When viewing the source code from Google… I am seeing this for the url of my ads and something else for the ads that do display. Can you make sense of this? My url in G definitely has a banned word in the url, but the other urls don’t. How is the url in G determined.

My ad url starts with:


The other ads that display with adblocking enabled all start with:



 5:08 am on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

I do hope that as Web site owners that are interested in making money from our sites, we continue to stand up for our rights and get NIS fixed.

I posted a class action law suit link at the end of Feb in his forum and I also hope that all of you affected by NIS can get there and register your concern so that maybe we can find someone to take this forward on our behalf. I already got yelled at by the forum ops here for rallying the troops, but this IS a serious business for many of us.

I guess I'm still confused about why some people in this forum participate in discussions about revenue generation when their sites have no ads and then join in and tell those of us that have revenue generating sites that we are foolish to worry about this issue. That attitude just doesn't compute for me. We make thousands of dollars each month from our adverting and affiliate links. I can't afford to put up with NIS blocking those links.

***FYI ... we HAVE redone a CJ and BFast site using links to pages with META re-directs. It twas a pain in the rear since there are hundreds of links on the pages, but as a benefit we can now look at each page in the Web log and correlate the activity against the hits recorded by CJ and Bfast. Just replace the link with a link to the page, name it product123.htm and use a META REFRESH that has the CJ link as the target. It works. No messy javascript or other coding.

We are also going to take another site and use the database scripting code we have here (NOT ASP) similar to Cold Fusion, to write a single page using IF statements and then direct the links to that page using variable names to develop the META REFRESH tags for hundreds of links. Since the page is composed on the fly by the database engine, NIS will not see the Cj or Bfast links or anything else on the deny list.

There is always a way around most any issue like this, but the folks at Symantec should not be doing what they are doing. It is wrong and we need to stand united to prove we can not be abused like this.

happy surfing!


 5:01 pm on Apr 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sorry 5 stars, I don't remember ever sending you the info. I don't think I have checked this thread for awhile so I missed your post, sorry. There is lots of info out there and articles about this if you just google for terms like norton blocks affiliate links. Many people are discussing the issue and I have found 3 software solutions or workarounds so far too. I heard that one very big company is planning to sue over this too.



 3:55 pm on Apr 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

In case anybody is interested, there is a German software house which developed a software which circumvents popup blockers, i.e. delivers ads even if the user has a popup blocker enabled. The article (sorry only in German) is here:

They do so basically by checking if there is an enabled popup blocker and in that case serve the ad as a "Layer ad".

[edited by: eljefe3 at 4:21 am (utc) on April 14, 2004]

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