Why am I seeing 'YouTube ban'?

YouTube recently implemented bot detection similar to what has been running on www.google.com for a few years. As far as we can tell, this was released in the summer of 2019. Google/YouTube are very tight-lipped regarding the specifics around these protections to ensure bot developers can't easily code their way around them. 

After careful traffic observation, we have a few ideas on how to mitigate the impact of schools using YouTube as an educational resource. 

Steps we've taken

1. JavaScript - It was immediately clear to us that if we were to create a bot performing likes/comments on videos the first iteration would not have JavaScript support. It is much harder to create a bot that can easily interact with JavaScript. We have developed and released a JavaScript block for the bots. This is a basic page that detects if the application communicating to YouTube has JavaScript support or not. If this is a simple bot, it will not be automatically redirected to YouTube. If this is a normal browser or application, it will be redirected without interruption. 

2. YouTube ban - Since we are still seeing CAPTCHAs coming from YouTube, we developed a YouTube Ban. This sounds scary, but we've developed it to be very passive. We have also coded a lot of intelligence into it so we can easily modify actions based on what we see happening in the field. The YouTube ban will look for x number of CAPTCHA events within y minutes and block the USER for z minutes. All of the variables are real-time configurable so we can ensure we are stopping the bots and not causing unnecessary blocks. 

What to do if users are watching YouTube ban block pages

From conversations with Google developers, they claim only users with malware, spyware, malicious toolbars, and the like will receive CAPTCHAs. Similarly, users will only see the YouTube ban block page if they receive multiple CAPTCHAs from YouTube within a short period of time. It would be safe to say that there is something on the device that is causing enough suspicious YouTube traffic to generate our block page. 

1. Have the user remove any non-essential toolbars from their browser. Toolbars are known to cause suspicious traffic. 

2. Run an AV scan on the device. This should pick up and remediate any malicious code. 

3. Re-image the device. This is a drastic step, but it would ensure the user stops seeing CAPTCHAs from YouTube and thus would stop seeing the YouTube ban block page from Securly. 

If you are positive the computer is free from any malware, you can contact support to remove the ban for the user. If the ban comes back, YouTube is still detecting something malicious coming from the device. 

In closing, we want our customers to know that we are working tirelessly to help schools overcome these recent YouTube issues.

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