Malware Being Spread Through Online Ads

Advertising sign

A new threat is emerging for both desktop and mobile internet users. It’s called malvertising and, as Adam Greenberg reports for SC Magazine, is a way to spread malware to unsuspecting users through online advertising.

These malicious ads are placed individually by hackers on otherwise legitimate websites. The hackers must convince companies through email and by using false identities to agree to put up the malvertising. When visitors to the site click the ads, it downloads malware onto their machine.

The criminals are specifically targeting sites with a lot of traffic and security experts estimate each malicious ad averages about 100-thousand views before it’s taken down. Users have to actually click the ads to be affected, but with so many views there’s the potential for a large number of users to be infected with malware. These threats are fairly widespread also with an estimated 10-billion malicious advertisements seen in 2012.

Because hackers are using fraudulent credentials, it’s difficult, or nearly impossible, to track them down even after an ad is found to contain malware. The key to stopping these attacks is for companies to be more judicious in selecting the ads they place on their websites. Asking about corporate and individual identities behind these ads before allowing them on a site is vital to avoiding potential headaches down the road.

Be aware that, while there are some legitimate advertisers who will contact you directly to place ads on your website, there are others who are attempting to spread malware. A safe option is to use PPC ads from a trusted source like Google or Bing.

For users, clicking on ads is a natural part of the web surfing experience, but some caution is needed. Clicking only on ads from reputable companies doesn’t always keep you safe, but it is a start. If your computer is infected with malware, call or come by Geek Rescue and we’ll clean it. Call us at 918-369-4335.

October 3rd, 2013