The average person encounters between 6,000 and 10,000 advertisements every single day. Many of those ads are digital. Can you remember the last time you visited a website that didn’t have an advertisement?
Along with being pesky, ads can also contain malicious code that can impact your system in a number of ways. This is known as malvertising.
As experts of cybersecurity in Miami, malvertising is something we encounter regularly. But what is it, how does it work and how can you protect against it?
What is Malvertising?
Malvertising is also known as malicious advertising. Just as the name suggests, these are criminally controlled advertisements designed to intentionally harm users with malware, scams, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) and more.
Malvertising looks just like any other advertisement, which is what makes it such an effective cyberattack. But these ads are used to distribute malware and other threats without any user action required.
Malicious advertising can appear on any website, including the ones that you visit every day. Criminals inject the ads with a piece of code that uses sophisticated systems to scan your computer and its contents to determine the most effective malware to send you.
Because these ads look just like other ads, criminals can often get away with submitting them to legitimate advertisement networks. It’s estimated that for every 100 ads that are published, at least one will contain malicious code.
Forms of Malvertising
Malvertising can infect your system with a variety of malicious software, including:
Malware includes any type of malicious code or software, including viruses, Trojans, worms and more.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts your files or locks you out of your device until you pay a ransom to regain access. Cybercriminals favor ransomware attacks because they often deliver quick and profitable payments using cryptocurrency, which is difficult to trace.
Adware is malicious software that displays advertisements on your screen, typically within a web browser.
Spyware is a type of malware that monitors your activities and reports them to the bad actors behind the attack.
A virus is the original malware. It attaches to a program and replicates itself by modifying other programs and infecting them with code.
Viruses aren’t as big of a threat today as they once were, but they can still infect systems through malvertising.
Ways to Protect Against Malvertising
Malvertising isn’t always easy to avoid because advertisements are everywhere online. But there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of being affected.
Strict Updating Policies
Make sure that you’re always keeping your software up to date. Malvertising attacks exploit vulnerabilities in existing software to infect systems.
Keeping all of your software and your operating system up to date will help ensure that your system isn’t left open for hackers.
Consider Ad Blockers
Ad blockers are another effective way to protect against malvertising. As you may have guessed, ad blockers block advertisements, preventing them from being displayed in your browser.
Ad blocking can also reduce the number of cookies loaded on your machine and can help protect your privacy.
Just keep in mind that some websites may block your access to their content because they rely on advertising revenue to operate.
Of course, always make sure that you have an anti-virus/anti-malware program installed on your system. Keep your anti-virus up to date and scan regularly to detect and remove malvertising.
Malvertising attacks are expected to continue rising well into the future, so adopting these good practices can help protect you now and in the future.