It’s called malvertising – a contraction of “malevolent advertising,” – and it’s all over the Web. It’s a particularly nasty bit of malware, purveyed by cybercriminals who get the legitimate-looking ads up on popular sites, and even hiding a malicious ad’s URL inside a legitimate ad. Malvertising has been popping up on such high-traffic, trusted websites as The Weather Network, NFL.com, BBC.com, and The New York Times. So, what can you, the average Web-user do to protect yourself from these cleverly-crafted and placed tricks that can get your computer shut down? Knowledge is power, yes, but that’s only half the battle.
Here are the main things you can do to keep malvertising away from your computer:
- Update all your software and network systems.
- Install ad blocker, but be cognizant of the fact that ad blocker won’t block all malvertising attempts. It could also block some legit content, aside from the ads themselves.
- Invest in an anti-exploit kit as a main tool in your anti-malware arsenal, along with your antivirus software.
- Have the right anti-exploit software browsing your computer for vulnerabilities. This will effectively detect and neutralize exploits and malicious adware.
- Uninstall all programs and browser plug-ins you aren’t using. These can often be used by those tracking your Web habits to fool you into thinking you’re clicking on an ad from a trusted site. Set your remaining plug-ins to “Click to Play” mode, which gives you the option to run a plug-in when a certain visited site wants to load one.
- Do a right-click and copy the link location (in Firefox; Copy Link Address in Chrome, or Copy shortcut in Internet Explorer) and plug it into a safe sites checker like Norton to test the link’s safety.
- Use a Web-based link scanner to test a suspicious URL, which you can right-click on and copy to a safe link checker such as URLVoid or Sucuri, as in the previous suggestion.
- Be leery of shortened links like those provided by Ow.ly and TinyURL, which are all over social media sites. Scan them through the aforementioned safe link sites.
Call an IT Expert
Those are eight steps to keep you on the right path and away from malvertising ads. You may also want to consult an IT professional if your concern level extends to getting an extra level of protection implemented. Sterling Technology Solutions is the leader in providing managed IT services in Charlotte. Contact one of our IT pros at (704) 271-5001 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be happy to answer all your questions.