Infectious software like spyware, ransomware, worms, and other forms of viruses are rampant throughout the internet.  Web surfers need to stay vigilant to prevent their computers from succumbing to these different types of infections, but cyber criminals are always employing new ways to spread them.  One such way of infecting people visiting websites across the internet which has gained popularity in recent years is becoming known as Malvertising.

Cyber criminals can infect advertisements on various websites, and many times a web page visitor doesn't even need to click an affected Ad to infect their computer.  Malvertising is a newer concept for Cyber Security teams to deal with, and over the past several hackers have implemented a variety of different advertising methods.

There's a variety of different methods in which Malvertising can take form

1. Search Engine Malvertising
This is where a scammer will use a Google AdWords account to create a fake PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ad which comes to the top of a Google Search result based on key words which are searched for.  For example, when someone types in ‘’Ikea” into Google and the very top result is Ikeas website, but next to the search result in green it will say “Ad”.  Scammers can create an Ad in their Google Adwords account that can look like any normal website and assign particular key terms to it so it shows up when people in certain areas search for those keywords in Google.  It may look legit, but the link can take you to just about anywhere, including fake support sites which may trick you into downloading more infectious software.

Infected Malvertising Google Pay-Per-Click Ad

2. Hacked Display Ad's
Display advertisements are commonly seen as the "typical" website ad you would find in the top banner, side bar of most common websites.  Tech's beg their customers not to click these Ad's, and there's good reason.  These types of advertisements are the most commonly infected item on a web page.  Many websites use advertisements that are built in and delivered by antiquated web software like Flash and JavaScript.  These platforms have very little security built-in, and are easily circumvented by hackers to spread infections by injecting code into them.
Infected Display Ad
Although this Ad may look harmless, code that sits behind it could potentially infect your computer.  Scammers can easily create fake Ad's through a legitimate or hacked Google Ad's account, and place ad's that may say one thing, and do something entirely different.




3. Browser HiJacking
Your web browser can be HiJacked through various forms of malicious software which can infect your computer either through add-on software installed alongside other installations, or even by simply browsing sites which may already be infected.  Once infected, the unwanted software modifies your web browsers settings, to inject unwanted advertising into the user's browser.  A browser hijacker may replace the existing home page, error page, or search page with its own.  These are generally used to force page views to particular websites, increasing revenue.  If infected, you may find that certain words in web pages suddenly appear to be hyperlinks which link out to other infected web sites.  Your Search Engine may also change to display something called "Conduit", or "Babylon", and you may not be able to navigate back to common search engines like Google or Yahoo.

Malware Conduit SearchInfected Links

What You Can do to Protect Yourself

There are many methods you can employ to protect yourself from infected advertisements and websites.   The most important thing is to be aware of the sites your visiting, and not to click on any advertisements or pop-ups that you may see online.  Many web marketing companies like Google also offer a contact page where you can report suspicious advertisements that they deliver.  If you spot a suspicious Google Advertisement, they encourage you to report it to
where Google's team will address it quickly.  It's also a good idea to have some form of Anti-Virus running if you are on a Windows based PC.  There are many Anti-Virus programs which also make use of various internet browsing protections.

Keeping yourself protected online is becoming more important every day as new methods are developed by scammers to infect you all the time.  Follow our guidelines to keep yourself protected, and sign up for our Newsletter to stay informed about new tech information every month.