What is Malvertising?

Today Internet users see ads everywhere. While browsing the Internet, watching videos, playing games, advertisements are everywhere. Because of the popularity and reach of the ads to a larger audience, cybercriminals are using it as a medium to spread malicious files, and this is where Malvertising comes in.

In this post, we would get to know what Malvertising is, how it works, its types, and how to protect against Malvertising.

What is Malvertising

Malvertising is the term used for legitimate advertisements that intentionally or unintentionally promote malware programs. The term Malvertising is the fusion of two words, Malicious and Advertising.

Most Internet users confuse Malvertising with the Adware attack as both rely on the ads for the attacks. However, both are entirely different. While Adware relies on malicious sites and applications for ad bombardment, Malvertising is conducted with the help of displaying ads on legitimate sites.

The thing that makes Malvertising dangerous is most of the time, the online advertising networks do not know the ads they are displaying are malicious since Malvertising is done by disguising the malicious codes in the popular ads. It is impractical to check every ad for the presence of malware.

How does Malvertising work

At first, the cybercriminals would create intriguing ads and include the malicious codes or files in them. Now they would buy the ad space on popular and legit advertising networks and display those legit-looking ads on such platforms.

Since ads are intriguing, they would attract Internet users to click on them. Moreover, users would easily click on the ads as they are displayed on good platforms. In this way, after the ad is clicked, the malware is introduced into the system.

Types of Malvertising

There are two main ways through which Malvertising can infect your PC. They are Pre-Click Malrvetisement and Post-Click Malvertisement.

Pre-Click Malvertisement

In Pre-Click Malvertisement, the malicious codes are injected into the javascript, and it gets loaded just by redirecting to the webpage that is holding malware containing ads. As soon as the user visits the websites displaying the malicious ads, the script would load into the browser without even clicking the ad. Once the script is loaded, the malware would be introduced into the system through drive-by downloads and other means.

Post-Click Malvertisement

In Post-Click Malvertising, the malicious codes, files, or applications are introduced into the system after the user clicks the ad that contains the malware. After clicking the ad, either the dubious ad is directly downloaded into the system, or the users are redirected to some other unsecured webpage, where they are tricked into downloading and installing the malware into their system through various social engineering techniques.

How to protect against Malvertising

As you can sense by now that through Malvertising, cyber attackers can spread their malicious codes and apps rapidly to a large number of devices, it is essential to keep your device protected from it. It is more concerning as Malvertising is conducted using the legitimate medium, so it becomes challenging to stay away from it.

Here are a few preventive measures to tackle the Malvertisement −

  • Use robust and popular Internet browsers. Unpopular browsers might be poorly programmed and would unable to prevent Malvertising scripts. A secured browser would block the download and installment of Malvertisements and also stop the malicious scripts from loading on the system.

  • Always keep your browser updated with the latest version. An updated browser would be designed to tackle the latest Malvertisements and introduce more security.

  • Disable the Flash Player. Most attackers use the Adobe Flash Player as a medium to introduce malicious ads. It is highly recommended to disable or uninstall the Flash Player from the browsers. Also, keep in mind that the Flash is outdated technology and now has been officially ended by Adobe; so, it is better to get rid of it.

  • Install an Adblocker. Though it is ethically incorrect to install an adblocker to block ads, as most sites, especially blogs, depend on the ads for their revenue, still, it is advised to install an adblocker to keep your device safe from malware.

  • Keep your device equipped with a robust security solution. A security solution like antimalware is specifically designed to block and remove the malware containing apps, codes, and files. A strong security solution would also secure your browser from malicious ads.