What is Malvertising and How to Protect Yourself from Such a Threat?

Malware is any malicious software that can be found on the web and threaten to compromise your computer, and its smooth operation. There are various reasons why hackers and snoopers would try to install malware on your device – and hence, take control of its functions. In order to succeed in their goal, many times, they employ radical approaches that are intriguing and do not raise any suspicions whatsoever.

One such fine example of methods used towards gaining access to a device via malware is in fact malvertising. Its name consists of malicious and advertising and therefore reveals the true intentions behind such a scheme. Due to the alarmingly increasing rate of malvertisements that has been reported by the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) recently, it is of paramount importance for everyone to learn more details as to what malware actually is, how malvertising works and how you can safely remove malware once it has been installed on a computer. Let’s get started, because this is a hot issue to analyze and can affect every single one of us!

How Does Malvertising Work Exactly?

We have explained the etymology of malvertising, but now it is high time we understood how malvertising works. Knowledge is a key element in our attempt to confront with online threats, after all. Well, there are two different ways in which malvertising works and they are both scary and nearly invisible, if you get to think about it. Let’s have a look at both of these methods and what they are all about:

  • The first method involves the placement of a malicious ad on a perfectly legitimate website. Once this has been completed, the visitors of the website click on the ad and get redirected to the compromised site. After a while, the malvertisement website redirect changes; the ad is removed and another target is set with an identical process. This is either a drive-by download or phishing technique that results in the desired malware installation without the knowledge (and of course the consent) of the Internet user.
  • The second method includes pop-up ads. They appear during the web surfing of an Internet user and tempt him to click on them. As soon as the user clicks on a pop-up ad or even when he chooses to close it, the malware initiates working its magic and spreading on the computer. A technique that is widely used in this case is scareware, which scares people as to the virus that has been detected and requires immediate treatment (motivating them to click on the very same pop-up ad that will lead to the compromise of their computer).

Both of these methods can lead to malware being installed and taking its toll on the overall performance of a specific computer. This is why we need to stay on alert and fight against these negative consequences of malvertising. If you think that you are not at risk, you should reconsider. In fact, there are various incidents that highlight just how substantial this problem can be.

Recent Incidents of Malvertising

In October, a disturbing discovery has been made. To be more specific, malvertising has been reported to target US military firms and contractors and espionage has taken an interesting, yet terrifying, twist. What is more, a lot of high profile and well reputed websites have been linked with malware redirection. Some of these websites include Java.com and IBTimes.com, eBay.ie, Deviantart.com and Photobucket.com, according to Fox-IT and its ProtAct service. This sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it? This is why we need to come up with the proper precautions that need to be taken beforehand.

How to Prevent Malvertising and Stay Thoroughly Protected

It is always better to be safe than sorry! So, check through all the guidelines that follow and result in the best malware protection, as much as the most efficient malware removal!

  • Update Your Operating System: Of course, this is a fundamental defensive line and applies to all aspects of your online protection. This is going to minimize the chances of getting infected by malware that is outdated. Having the latest version of your OS will definitely shield your defense and offer you the opportunity to avoid threats like malvertising much more effectively.
  • Maximize the Protection of Your Browser: Always use a firewall (never turn it OFF, as this can cause trouble) and make sure that you have got all the proper plugins installed on your browser. Apparently, the use of the adequate antivirus and anti-malware software will work wonders on your computer as well.
  • Gather Information: Do not stay idle and instead be vigilant and learn the latest information in the field of online protection. Find out what malvertising is all about and get informed on the websites that may trigger malware installation on your computer. As we have stated above, knowledge is everything!
  • Be Cautious with Email Attachments: When you are sent an email attachment that comes from an unknown source, it would be wise for you not to open it. Especially when the email promises riches beyond imagination or lucky coupons and discounts that do not sound realistic, you should be alarmed. Life is sweet, but the rule of thumb highlights the need for you to avoid believing in that kind of unexpected luck!
  • File Sharing Threats: One of the most dangerous times online is while file sharing. If you are sent a file from an untrusted or unknown source, you are better off without clicking on it and receiving the file. Go for encryption in the data you send to others, in order to eliminate the chances of malware compromise.
  • Avoid Anything Suspicious: This is common sense, but it does not hurt repeating that. If a pop-up ad congratulates you on winning a ravishing amount of money, do not fall for that! If you are sent an email with someone claiming to hold the key for upgrading your malware removal tool or any other software, choose to visit the official website and download it from a reliable source. Stay on alert in all cases!

Even though malvertising has been an emerging threat over the past few years and has been increasing exponentially, there are things that we can do for being kept thoroughly protected. Follow the instructions that have been displayed in this article and make sure to use additional security measurements, such as a malware scanner. With concentrated work and with focused efforts, you can keep this danger at bay too!

Top-right Image: By PBCrichton / Clipart (https://openclipart.org/detail/28408/malware-hazard-symbol-by-pbcrichton)

Ali Qamar Ali Qamar is a seasoned blogger and loves keeping a keen eye on the future of tech. He is a geek. He is a privacy enthusiast and advocate. He is crazy (and competent) about internet security, digital finance, and technology. Ali is the founder of PrivacySavvy and an aspiring entrepreneur.

2 thoughts on “What is Malvertising and How to Protect Yourself from Such a Threat?”

  1. Do not forget a 3rd kind. Your own Internet Service Provider intercepting and modifying DNS results so as to direct you where they have paying ads. I have tracked down a certain provider, who started in Colorado and has since grown through acquisition, replace valid ads through a legitimate advertising relationship with pornographic ads, which were malicious. This is not an isolated incident….it’s readily found via a Google search. Imagine your child, surfing sites for children and your own Internet Service Provider serving them up that content.

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