Malvertising, or malicious advertising, refers to the use of online advertising, to spread malware, or software created to damage a computer, server, client, or entire computer network. Usually, a cyber attack works by getting a user to download something or take some action, like clicking. Malvertising does not always require user action.
The ability it has to travel seemingly undetected through web ads means millions of people can be endangered. Worse malvertising is now preying on mobile devices, as clicking by accident is very easy.
Since the first known attack back in 2007, the amount of malvertising attacks has been growing exponentially, numbering in the billions! Before you decide to go off the grid, here is a list of tips to help you prevent and deal with malvertising.
Tip #1: Make sure all your software is up-to-date
A hacker, like any other criminal, will always look for an easy way in. Ensuring your software is updated means that those vulnerable spots are patched up so they can’t be abused. That being said, cyber attacks are often delivered through fake software updates. Below are a few tips for identifying these fakers:
No matter how legit they seem, a self-respecting anti-malware company would never send you alerts through a web ad. Companies can’t detect what infections are on your system just because you visit a site.
Popups can look so realistic but if you read the content closely you may notice the language they use.
Words like immediately and urgently are used by hackers to get you to act fast without thinking. Make sure to read carefully before you click on anything, as they also will hide their “X”, so when you try to close the popup, you actually are engaging with it.
If your ads have English language errors like spelling or grammatical mistakes, you know you have a fake
System tray notifications can be even more convincing. Again, look for the over-the-top scare factor or urgency.
Read product names carefully when you get a popup. Names that seem fake and vague promises like “we’ll protect your privacy”. Always search the name. If it’s not on page 1 of Google, it’s fake. Another dead giveaway is asking you to purchase or send money like with ransomware.
Close your browser
Instead of clicking a suspicious ad, close your entire browser. If the ad goes away, guess what? If the alert closes with the browser, you have yourself a faker.
Tip #2: Watch out for links
Email is one of the easiest ways for hackers to attack. Attachments and links can open malware. This is referred to as phishing. Using an email service is a great idea, as they have specific tools to prevent maliciously from targeting you through link protection and filtering your spam.
Tip #3: Ad Blockers
Now that you know what to look out for, do use excellent tools, like adblockers to prevent these messages in the first place.
Using a legitimate solution like AdBlock and BlackFog Privacy will protect you from several cyberattacks, from malvertising to profiling on the Dark Web. Here are a few reasons why you want to block ads:
- Protect your privacy
- Protects against malvertising
- Reduce HTTP cookies
- Better UX
- Remove the clutter
- Load your content faster
Bonus Tip: Prevention
Every time you go online, countless spots ask for your info. This malvertising technique gets you to enter private information when you otherwise wouldn’t. Prevention is always the best sort of protection, so get proactive.
Choose an anti-malware company that can block your data from getting out and block ads as well. Hackers may be getting smarter, but cybersecurity companies are as well, so you can protect yourself before you are attacked.
Malvertising isn’t going away, but there are ways you can protect yourself against these malicious attacks. Knowing what to look out for is a great way to prevent attacks. Look for overtly scary popups and spelling mistakes before you click on anything. Legitimate companies do not use web ads if you close your browser and they disappear, you know you have a faker.
Ad blockers can be a great way to stop these attacks as well as protect your privacy. At the end of the day, prevention is critical, so do your research and pick an excellent cybersecurity company to protect you against malvertising.
Keen to learn more see this article on AI assisted ransomware.