A new type of fraud: News Scareware

After posting the article with the ads, I thought that I covered all stupid things that online publications do to force their readers to pay, subscribe or to disable ad blockers.

Well, this was not correct…

The stupidity goes on… with Washington Post.


They request your email address in order to allow you to read any article.

I tried first to add some bogus email address so that I move on.

But, these guys take things really serious. They connect to the SMTP server and try to authenticate if the user exists.

If it doesn’t work, you get an error.

After you successfully enter an email address, they store various system cookies and you’re free to read all articles.




I tried to test this in three browsers

  • Chrome – where I registered
  • Firefox
  • Tor (browsing from USA)

and it worked in all of them. I even erased all cookies above and it still worked. I honestly don’t know how they verify that my computer is authorized to view the content.

Thy definitely stored something on the computer, different than a cookie, and they are checking that from the code of the website.

I will investigate this when I will have more time.


Even if I don’t agree with their practice, I have to agree, , they do a good job here 🙂


© Copyright 2016 Sorin Mustaca, All rights Reserved. Written For: Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity

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About the Author

Sorin Mustaca
Sorin Mustaca, (ISC)2 CSSLP, CompTIA Security+ and Project+, is working since over 20 years in the IT Security industry and worked between 2003-2014 for Avira as Product Manager for the known products used by over 100 million users world-wide. Today he is CEO and owner of Endpoint Cybersecurity GmbH focusing on Cybersecurity, secure software development and security for IoT and Automotive. He is also running his personal blog Sorin Mustaca on Cybersecurity and is the author of the free eBook Improve your security .
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