Viruses in online advertising

computer virus

hhhThis is an ongoing trend that we really want to make our customers aware of. Yes, we make money from cleaning out commuters infected with viruses. but we want to do whats best for our customers. Teaching you how to keep yourself from getting infected in the first place is the just good customer service. This article will show you this new trend in drive by virus infections. We will show you how to keep from getting infected from these viruses that don’t even require you do anything to get infected.

Before we go to much further, I want to clear up some terminology. Computer viruses have been around for more than 40 years. The term virus is common and just about everyone understands it. However, today new terms are being used to describe the exact types of threats we are seeing. You may see terms lie malware (malicious software), ransomware (ransom software), malvertising (malicious advertising). For the purpose of simplicity, we are using the term virus so that everyone can quickly know what we mean. Where its necessary to explain a different term, we will explain so that everyone has a good understanding of the threats we all face now.

The newest trend in how viruses will attack your system is through online advertising. This is called malvertsing. No we aren’t talking about visiting porn sites even those sites will often infect your computer also. We are talking about visiting sites like:

  • msn.com
  • nytimes.com
  • bbc.com
  • aol.com
  • nfl.com
  • realtor.com

Take a look at that list. I am sure there are sites that just about everyone reading this article visit on a very regular basis.

Here’s how it works.

Advertisers will sign up for advertising networks. these are the networks that show all the ads you see on most of the sites you visit.

The advertiser creates an advertisement that contains a virus (malware). They will then pay for their ad to be seen billions of times by users. This is in real time. this means when you open the site and see the ad, the virus has launched.

You didn’t have to do anything for it to happen, just visiting the sites your normally go to was enough to get infected by their viruses.

How these cyber criminals get their viruses on ad networks

You may be asking, hey wait, why do the ad networks allow these cyber crooks on their networks anyway? Good question.

There are two main reasons. The first is that usually a computer is processing the transaction of the criminal buying the ads and doesn’t actually look at the ad itself.

The second way that these viruses sneak by is that the criminals will show good ads for a while to get approved and then after s a certain period of time, boom, swap to the viruses.

 

What kinds of viruses are these?

The most common kind now be delivered is ransomware. This is a virus that will encrypt your whole hard drive with a secret key and then make you pay to have your own computer unlocked. By showing these ads to millions of people, you can quickly see how this becomes a very profitable business for the criminals.

And by earning more and more money, they can better make their viruses able to get past modern antivirus and anti malware software.

Malwarebytes has a great infographic on how the whole thing works. You can view it here.

 

What can you to protect yourself?

The easiest way to block this kind of attack is to disable JavaScript in your browser. This is a guaranteed way to protect yourself. Unfortunately most sites need JavaScript to function. So while you will be safe, the web will become much less useful.

The second way is to use a NON-FREE antivirus software. Malwarebytes is a good one. The reason I say non free is that the free versions usually don’t include real time protection. This means you will have virus protection on your system but not in real time when you are visiting websites.

Iron Comet can help setup protection for your home and office computers. Our Total Service Solution offers complete protection from these sorts of attacks and many others. We also include unlimited phone and remote support for a flat monthly rate. No more running clock for your computer repairs.

Call us at 770-506-4383 today to get your office protected.

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