Do you know what malvertising is?
The first time I heard about malvertising I was in shock! Early in my career in cybersecurity, I had to learn about so many new concepts. It was a process to shift my thinking to understand how Cybermonsters work.
Learning about how Cybermonsters use legitimate ways to infect our computers was something I had never thought of.
I knew that I could get malware or a virus if I clicked or opened an infected file on my computer or other devices, but learning that I could get infected by visiting my favorite websites was surreal. The fact that by simply hovering my mouse on an infected image could hinder my devices was crazy.
What is malvertising?
Here is the definition from the first Happily Ever Cyber! book:
The word Malvertising is a combination of Malware and Advertising. It refers to the practice of infecting ads in websites to spread malware to your computer or mobile devices. Malvertising could appear as abrupt alerts, tickling offers, banners, or pop-up ads.
The combination of malware and advertising is very real! Cybermonsters can buy ad space on trustworthy websites, and these ads will appear legitimate to us, but they have hidden code that could redirect you to a malicious website, or simply install malware on your computer or devices instantly.
What can we do to protect ourselves?
Here are 3 simple ways you can reduce the chances of becoming a victim of malvertising:
- No busques lo que no se te ha perdido – Don’t look for something you haven’t lost… My mom used to say this phrase to me all the time.This means – don’t go searching for things you know you shouldn’t be searching for online! Searching how to jailbreak your phone, how to bypass a particular practice, looking for inappropriate content and so on increases risk online. Those are the first places malware will be waiting for you and even if you hover on an image, your computer can get infected!
- Use for special occasions only! As a kid I had only one dress that I wore for special occasions. When I was invited to a party, when we went to church or, when we went to visit someone, I would wear this yellow dress, embroidered with flowers and butterflies.I loved that dress so much, I felt I could do anything when I was wearing it so I cared for it and never played or did any chores in the house while wearing my dress.
Your computer has an administrator account which is the most powerful account you have access to. You can do anything with it, so instead of using it for daily activities, like checking your email or surfing the web, create a secondary account that is a regular user account. In the same way I cared for my yellow dress, you need to care for your administrator account and use it for special occasions only – like installing software or updating your computer. If you happen to visit a page with malvertising on a regular user account, the software won’t install, as it won’t have the access.
- Always Be Intentional! Clicking on Ads you see randomly on your browser out of curiosity, boredom or simply because you can, could create an easily avoidable nightmare! Visit official websites if you are really interested in buying a product or service, don’t click on the advertisement.
How do you protect yourself from malvertising? I am excited to hear from you in the comments below!