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Get Rid of Adf.ly Referral Spam Links In Google Analytics

Referrer spam has been the cause of many website publishers` headaches lately. There have been many websites that have experienced problems with their analytics due to such spamming software. It is primarily conducted by the so called spam bots that are programmed to do different activities like stay undetected or crawl the web to look for websites to spam based on specific criteria. What is more, such adf.ly shortened links may be either parts of pay-per click schemes or be sites that may be scamming or malware containing. Either way it is highly recommended to stay away from spam messages that contain this web link due to the third-party risk involved.

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Name Adf.ly Spam Links
Type Malicious domains being spammed by Referrer Spammers via adf.ly
Short Description The domains may do various dangerous or unhealthy deeds to the PC activities.
Symptoms The user may witness fake Java Update downloads as well as redirects to other potentially harmful domains.
Distribution Method Via clicking on any adf.ly links (For example adf(.)ly/?hrefasdi9/). By being redirected to it via a PUP (Potentially Unwanted Progra) causing pop-ups and redirects on the PC.
Detection Tool Download Malware Removal Tool, to See If Your System Has Been Affected by malware
User Experience Join our forum to discuss about Adf.ly Referrer Spam.

help-removal-sensorstechforum

Adf.ly Referral Spam – What Does It Do?

This type of referral spam aims to use the legitimate adf.ly link shortening service that pays the person who shared the link per a user click. So as far as adf.ly is concerned they even report the spammers who use their services to spam via their URL shortening service. So adf.ly is NOT the one who spams you.

Back to the referrer spam, it is mainly two types:

Web Crawlers or Spiders

This type of spam is less aggressive since the bots are usually programmed to back away after being flagged by the certain website in order for them not to jeopardize the spamming operation this way. The name crawlers is there because the bot essentially crawl through websites and select which ones to spam based on various criteria. An example may be captcha which is easy to bypass, websites with low traffic and others.

Ghost Referrers

Ghost referral spam is a more sophisticated type of spamming attack because the software itself is reported by researchers like Ben Travis at viget.com to connect via using the HTTP pass through packets and hence spam without even being physically located on the website. What is more such spam attacks may be very hard to remove and may devalate your Google Analytics data very fast.

Curious fact
But bear in mind that there are very talented spammers that even outsource certain activites of their spam via services such as the former odesk.com. What they do is that they recruit odesk employees who have fast typing skills in order to pay them for a captcha test experiment or manual website captcha confirmations. What actually may happen Is that the user enters the captcha Identification that is required for the bot to bypass the defense and start spamming. This makes captcha defense utterly useless.

Protecting Yoursef from Adf.ly Referral Spam

In case you are a website administrator, you should look forward to the methods below, but bear in mind that they will block ALL adf.ly links and even users who are legitimate may not be able to post adf.ly content to your website. One way to counter this is to block the spammers by IP address but most spam bots use different proxy and VPN services so it is not a complete solution. We have suggested three methods below plus you can see more instructions in the article linked below:

Method 1: Filtering Adf.ly Spam in Google Analytics:

Step 1: Click on the ‘Admin’ tab on your GA web page.
Step 2: Choose which ‘View’ is to be filtered and then click the ‘Filters’ button.
Step 3: Click on ‘New Filter’.
Step 4: Write a name, such as ‘Spam Referrals’.
Step 5: On Filter Type choose Custom Filter –>Exclude Filter –> Field: Campaign Source–> Filter Pattern. Then on the Pattern, enter the domain name – adf.ly
Step 6: Select Views to Apply Filter.
Step 7: Save the filter, by clicking on the ‘Save’ button.
You are done! Congratulations!

Also, make sure you check out these several methods to help you further block out this referrer spam from Google Analytics:

https://sensorstechforum.com/exclude-all-hits-from-known-bots-and-spiders-in-google-analytics/

We have also researched the following methods to remove this spam:

Method 2: Block it from your server.

In case you have a server that is Apache HTTP Server, you may want to try the following commands to block domains in the .htaccess file:
RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https://.*adf \.ly/ [NC,OR]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^https://.*adf \-for\-website\.ly/ [NC,OR]

RewriteRule ^(.*)$ – [F,L]
Also here is a web link to some spam URLs being blacklisted from other servers:

https://perishablepress.com/blacklist/ultimate-referrer-blacklist.txt

Disclaimer: This type of domain blocking in Apache servers has not yet been tested and it should be done by experienced professionals. Backup is always recommended.

Method 3 – Via WordPress

There is a method outlined by security researchers online that uses WordPress plugins to block referrer spams from sites. There are many plugins that help deal with referrer spam, simply do a google search. We have currently seen one particular plugin reported to work, called WP-Ban, but bear in mind that you may find an equally good or better. WP-Ban has the ability to block users based on their IP address and other information such as the URL, for example.

Disclaimer: Bear in mind that Adf.ly is a completely legitimate service and you should focus on blocking the spammers by IP address instead of domain. Blocking adf.ly may prefent users to link reputable locations. However, if your website does not use adf.ly links except on spam messages, you should act towards its removal.

When it comes to protecting yourself from spam links going together with shortened URLs it is important to check whether or not any of the PCs in your organisation has been infected with malware. Also, if you or any other users you know have visited such links it is highly advisable to download an advanced anti-malware program that will perform such check automatically.

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Spy Hunter scanner will only detect the threat. If you want the threat to be automatically removed, you need to purchase the full version of the anti-malware tool.Find Out More About SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool / How to Uninstall SpyHunter

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Ventsislav Krastev

Ventsislav is a cybersecurity expert at SensorsTechForum since 2015. He has been researching, covering, helping victims with the latest malware infections plus testing and reviewing software and the newest tech developments. Having graduated Marketing as well, Ventsislav also has passion for learning new shifts and innovations in cybersecurity that become game changers. After studying Value Chain Management, Network Administration and Computer Administration of System Applications, he found his true calling within the cybersecrurity industry and is a strong believer in the education of every user towards online safety and security.

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Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

How to Remove Adf.ly Spam Links from Windows.


Step 1: Boot Your PC In Safe Mode to isolate and remove Adf.ly Spam Links

OFFER

Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your PC with SpyHunter

Keep in mind, that SpyHunter’s scanner is only for malware detection. If SpyHunter detects malware on your PC, you will need to purchase SpyHunter's malware removal tool to remove the malware threats. Read our SpyHunter 5 review. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria

1. Hold Windows key() + R


2. The "Run" Window will appear. In it, type "msconfig" and click OK.


3. Go to the "Boot" tab. There select "Safe Boot" and then click "Apply" and "OK".
Tip: Make sure to reverse those changes by unticking Safe Boot after that, because your system will always boot in Safe Boot from now on.


4. When prompted, click on "Restart" to go into Safe Mode.


5. You can recognise Safe Mode by the words written on the corners of your screen.


Step 2: Uninstall Adf.ly Spam Links and related software from Windows

Here is a method in few easy steps that should be able to uninstall most programs. No matter if you are using Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP, those steps will get the job done. Dragging the program or its folder to the recycle bin can be a very bad decision. If you do that, bits and pieces of the program are left behind, and that can lead to unstable work of your PC, errors with the file type associations and other unpleasant activities. The proper way to get a program off your computer is to Uninstall it. To do that:


1. Hold the Windows Logo Button and "R" on your keyboard. A Pop-up window will appear.


2. In the field type in "appwiz.cpl" and press ENTER.


3. This will open a window with all the programs installed on the PC. Select the program that you want to remove, and press "Uninstall"
Follow the instructions above and you will successfully uninstall most programs.


Step 3: Clean any registries, created by Adf.ly Spam Links on your computer.

The usually targeted registries of Windows machines are the following:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce
  • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce

You can access them by opening the Windows registry editor and deleting any values, created by Adf.ly Spam Links there. This can happen by following the steps underneath:

1. Open the Run Window again, type "regedit" and click OK.


2. When you open it, you can freely navigate to the Run and RunOnce keys, whose locations are shown above.


3. You can remove the value of the virus by right-clicking on it and removing it.
Tip: To find a virus-created value, you can right-click on it and click "Modify" to see which file it is set to run. If this is the virus file location, remove the value.

IMPORTANT!
Before starting "Step 4", please boot back into Normal mode, in case you are currently in Safe Mode.
This will enable you to install and use SpyHunter 5 successfully.

Step 4: Scan for Adf.ly Spam Links with SpyHunter Anti-Malware Tool

1. Click on the "Download" button to proceed to SpyHunter's download page.


It is recommended to run a scan before purchasing the full version of the software to make sure that the current version of the malware can be detected by SpyHunter. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter's EULA, Privacy Policy and Threat Assessment Criteria.


2. After you have installed SpyHunter, wait for it to update automatically.

SpyHunter5-update-2018


3. After the update process has finished, click on the 'Malware/PC Scan' tab. A new window will appear. Click on 'Start Scan'.

SpyHunter5-Free-Scan-2018


4. After SpyHunter has finished scanning your PC for any files of the associated threat and found them, you can try to get them removed automatically and permanently by clicking on the 'Next' button.

SpyHunter-5-Free-Scan-Next-2018

If any threats have been removed, it is highly recommended to restart your PC.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer

Get rid of Adf.ly Spam Links from Mac OS X.


Step 1: Uninstall Adf.ly Spam Links and remove related files and objects

OFFER
Manual Removal Usually Takes Time and You Risk Damaging Your Files If Not Careful!
We Recommend To Scan Your Mac with SpyHunter for Mac
Keep in mind, that SpyHunter for Mac needs to purchased to remove the malware threats. Click on the corresponding links to check SpyHunter’s EULA and Privacy Policy


1. Hit the ⇧+⌘+U keys to open Utilities. Another way is to click on “Go” and then click “Utilities”, like the image below shows:


2. Find Activity Monitor and double-click it:


3. In the Activity Monitor look for any suspicious processes, belonging or related to Adf.ly Spam Links:

Tip: To quit a process completely, choose the “Force Quit” option.


4. Click on the "Go" button again, but this time select Applications. Another way is with the ⇧+⌘+A buttons.


5. In the Applications menu, look for any suspicious app or an app with a name, similar or identical to Adf.ly Spam Links. If you find it, right-click on the app and select “Move to Trash”.


6: Select Accounts, after which click on the Login Items preference. Your Mac will then show you a list of items that start automatically when you log in. Look for any suspicious apps identical or similar to Adf.ly Spam Links. Check the app you want to stop from running automatically and then select on the Minus (“-“) icon to hide it.


7: Remove any left-over files that might be related to this threat manually by following the sub-steps below:

  • Go to Finder.
  • In the search bar type the name of the app that you want to remove.
  • Above the search bar change the two drop down menus to “System Files” and “Are Included” so that you can see all of the files associated with the application you want to remove. Bear in mind that some of the files may not be related to the app so be very careful which files you delete.
  • If all of the files are related, hold the ⌘+A buttons to select them and then drive them to “Trash”.

In case you cannot remove Adf.ly Spam Links via Step 1 above:

In case you cannot find the virus files and objects in your Applications or other places we have shown above, you can manually look for them in the Libraries of your Mac. But before doing this, please read the disclaimer below:

Disclaimer! If you are about to tamper with Library files on Mac, be sure to know the name of the virus file, because if you delete the wrong file, it may cause irreversible damage to your MacOS. Continue on your own responsibility!

1: Click on "Go" and Then "Go to Folder" as shown underneath:

2: Type in "/Library/LauchAgents/" and click Ok:

3: Delete all of the virus files that have similar or the same name as Adf.ly Spam Links. If you believe there is no such file, do not delete anything.

You can repeat the same procedure with the following other Library directories:

→ ~/Library/LaunchAgents
/Library/LaunchDaemons

Tip: ~ is there on purpose, because it leads to more LaunchAgents.


Step 2: Scan for and remove Adf.ly Spam Links files from your Mac

When you are facing problems on your Mac as a result of unwanted scripts and programs such as Adf.ly Spam Links, the recommended way of eliminating the threat is by using an anti-malware program. SpyHunter for Mac offers advanced security features along with other modules that will improve your Mac’s security and protect it in the future.


Click the button below below to download SpyHunter for Mac and scan for Adf.ly Spam Links:


Download

SpyHunter for Mac



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove Adf.ly Spam Links from Google Chrome.


Step 1: Start Google Chrome and open the drop menu


Step 2: Move the cursor over "Tools" and then from the extended menu choose "Extensions"


Step 3: From the opened "Extensions" menu locate the unwanted extension and click on its "Remove" button.


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Google Chrome by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Erase Adf.ly Spam Links from Mozilla Firefox.

Step 1: Start Mozilla Firefox. Open the menu window


Step 2: Select the "Add-ons" icon from the menu.


Step 3: Select the unwanted extension and click "Remove"


Step 4: After the extension is removed, restart Mozilla Firefox by closing it from the red "X" button at the top right corner and start it again.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Uninstall Adf.ly Spam Links from Microsoft Edge.


Step 1: Start Edge browser.


Step 2: Open the drop menu by clicking on the icon at the top right corner.


Step 3: From the drop menu select "Extensions".


Step 4: Choose the suspected malicious extension you want to remove and then click on the gear icon.


Step 5: Remove the malicious extension by scrolling down and then clicking on Uninstall.



Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Remove Adf.ly Spam Links from Safari.


Step 1: Start the Safari app.


Step 2: After hovering your mouse cursor to the top of the screen, click on the Safari text to open its drop down menu.


Step 3: From the menu, click on "Preferences".

stf-safari preferences


Step 4: After that, select the 'Extensions' Tab.

stf-safari-extensions


Step 5: Click once on the extension you want to remove.


Step 6: Click 'Uninstall'.

stf-safari uninstall

A pop-up window will appear asking for confirmation to uninstall the extension. Select 'Uninstall' again, and the Adf.ly Spam Links will be removed.


How to Reset Safari
IMPORTANT: Before resetting Safari make sure you back up all your saved passwords within the browser in case you forget them.

Start Safari and then click on the gear leaver icon.

Click the Reset Safari button and you will reset the browser.


Windows Mac OS X Google Chrome Mozilla Firefox Microsoft Edge Safari Internet Explorer


Eliminate Adf.ly Spam Links from Internet Explorer.


Step 1: Start Internet Explorer.


Step 2: Click on the gear icon labeled 'Tools' to open the drop menu and select 'Manage Add-ons'


Step 3: In the 'Manage Add-ons' window.


Step 4: Select the extension you want to remove and then click 'Disable'. A pop-up window will appear to inform you that you are about to disable the selected extension, and some more add-ons might be disabled as well. Leave all the boxes checked, and click 'Disable'.


Step 5: After the unwanted extension has been removed, restart Internet Explorer by closing it from the red 'X' button located at the top right corner and start it again.


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