Malvertising: The Hidden Threat

 

Many news organizations make a sizable profit on renting out virtual ad space on their websites. This ad space is usually rented out to third party ad networks, such as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. However, cybercriminals are now inserting malicious code into online advertising to infect unsuspecting website visitors. Unlike malicious advertising of the past, the ads don't need to be clicked on, but simply shown to the visitor. From there, the visitor will find his/her computer is infected with spyware and/or ransomware. These types of malware can slow down devices, record keystrokes, and encrypt files.

 

How it works:

• Cybercriminals will upload malicious Flash multimedia to an ad network
• The ad network accepts the ad and stores it in their database to serve to viewers at a later time
• Advertisers will bid on the opportunity to serve their ads to a target audience
• The ad network will serve an ad to the cybercriminal's desired audience
• When a user visits the website, the ad will display and the malicious code will download to their computer
• The code will then search for a backdoor through unpatched software, especially Flash, Java, and Silverlight
• Once the backdoor is found, the code will install malware onto the device


You can protect yourself from malware by:

• Keeping your web browser updated
• Adjusting your web browser setting so mulitimedia ads won't run automatically unless you click on them. This article has instructions here.
• Use ad blocking software, such as Adblock Plus
• Keep browser plugins updated
• Disabling or uninstall plugins you don't use
• Limiting the amount of employee accounts that can install software on their computers
• Installing software that will monitor and protect your web browser for exploit attempts, such as Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit

 

SwiftTech Solutions can help your staff stay protected against the dangers of web browsing. Contact us by calling 877-794-3811 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free network assessment.

 

SOURCES
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Hern, A. Major sites including New York Times and BBC hit by 'ransomware' malvertising. (2016, March 16). https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/16/major-sites-new-york-times-bbc-ransomware-malvertising
Malwarebytes Labs. What is malvertising? (2015, February 24). Retrieved from: https://blog.malwarebytes.org/the-basics/2015/02/what-is-malvertising/
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