Home » Alerts » How to Stay Away from Malvertising?

If anything, hackers are a determined lot. They keep themselves busy in planning new methods to con the Internet users. And malvertising is just one of their wicked tricks. In this post, we will help you know what malvertising is, how it works, and how you can defend yourself and your devices from it.

What is malvertising?

Inherited from ‘malicious advertising’, malvertising is measured as the method of infecting PCs by using online ads and several types of malware. The following discussion on how malvertising works will help you know it better.

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What is the mechanism of malvertising?

Malvertising works by wrapping malicious codes within internet advertisements that are quite safe. The infection generated by malvertising generally takes place in one of the following ways:

  1. Infection that is generated by user

In this type of malvertising, the user is displayed a pop-up ad that brings a message like “Your PC has been infected with hundred viruses” or “Install this software to clean your PC now!” and so on. This type of social engineering (influencing someone to collect complex information about them) method tricks innocent users into clicking on such ads.

  1. Infection that happens with the least user collaboration

This type of malvertising is scarier and more dangerous. Here, the user does not have to tap on any advertisement or even interact with the website. Just visiting the web page or loading the web page opens the malicious advertisement to get on it with its job. This is called as a drive-by download.

What occurs in either of the above scenarios?

In either way, the mischievous ad downloads an exploit kit in the user’s PC. This exploit kit sniffs the target PC for security loopholes (security weaknesses/flaws) and downloads malware that can take benefit of any security flaw that is found. For example, the exploit kit finds a safety flaw in the web browser. Methodically, it drops a malware that can take benefit of this flaw, finally allowing other malware get into the PC. These malware could be key loggers, spyware, and even a ransomware.Security weaknesses are mostly found in obsolete versions of Adobe, Java, browser plugins, and Operating Systems.

It is vital to recognize that websites holding malicious ads are not always infected themselves. In the past, renowned sites like MSN, The New York Times, the BBC, and Yahoo were reported to innocently spreading malvertising.

How to save yourself from malvertising?

  • Keep all software patched and up-to-date. Malvertisingdepends on security weakness. And an outdated version of almost any program contains potential weakness. Applying all suggested security updates and putting automatic updates to ON is the most simplest way to lower the risk of malvertising attacks.
  • Do not download software or any type of files like the music, video, games, etc. from malicious websites that serve a lot of ads or seem to have a low status. Check the security rating of such doubtful sites on websites such as https://www.virustotal.com/
  • To lower the risk of drive-by downloads, set your web browser plugins to click-to-play. When allowed, this feature forces a web page to take your approval before loading a plugin. This way you can cut the option of a self-triggering malicious ad to exploit a flaw in your web browser. This method shows how this is done for Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari.
  • Install a trusted ad-blocker plugin on your web browser. As the name suggests, the plugin restricts ads from running on the websites you browse. Note that, doing this won’t block malvertising totally. Also, ad blockers might block data that is actually needed, like certain sections on an airline website. So, it is vital to know how to use ad blockers suitably.
  • Restrict Flash and Java plugins; these are often targeted by hackers for their security weaknesses. And uninstall any browser plugin that you don’t use. Read this method on how to disable and uninstall plugins.
  • Install trusted antivirus software. This will lower more than half the dangers of malvertising attacks. Keep it up-to-date and always ON so that it can notice and stop the download of exploit kits and cut the procedure that follows it. More significantly, antivirus programs can help you stop drive-by downloads, which are in fact, the main concern here.

Install a reputed Antivirus for your device. Bitdefender Antivirus is a renowned Antivirus. The best part of the Bitdefender software is after sale service. If you face any kind of installation then just contact Bitdefender Tech Support. The technician hired in this company will take remote access of your device and fix the issues.

While there is no sure shot solution for malvertising, there is a lot you can do to lessen its risks and keep your PC protected. If you have come across malvertising, share your story in the comment section below.