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Malvertising: How It Impacts Cybersecurity

By Tom Seest

What Is Malvertising and How Does It Impact Cybersecurity?

At BestCybersecurityNews, we help entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, young learners, and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.

Malvertising is a type of malicious cybercrime that involves exploiting online ads to spread malware or redirect users to malicious websites. Typically, these ads appear on trusted and well-known sites.
Malvertising attacks have the potential to harm website owners and advertising networks alike, as well as impact users’ devices. Furthermore, they cause security problems and raise the likelihood of data breaches.

What Is Malvertising and How Does It Impact Cybersecurity?

What Is Malvertising and How Does It Impact Cybersecurity?

How Can Malicious Ads Impact Cybersecurity?

Malicious ads are an act of cybercrime designed to violate online users’ privacy and security. They may steal personal information, install spyware, and cause financial loss.
These malicious advertisements are often embedded into display ads served to website visitors through legitimate ad networks, making them difficult for internet users and publishers to detect.
Cybercriminals can use advertisements to infect computers without the user’s knowledge or consent, known as drive-by download. This can happen through malicious ad creative or JavaScript embedded in post-click ad content.
In some instances, attackers can reroute victims to malicious web pages that download malware directly onto their computers. This is often due to ad-serving vulnerabilities in browsers, which allow malware to run without user awareness or consent.
Ad fraud is especially prevalent on mobile devices, which are often infected with malware through ads that attempt to hijack the system settings of the device. Once activated, this malware sends victims’ personal information and money to hackers who seek out to commit identity theft or other crimes.
Cybercriminals often gain access to malware through phishing campaigns. These scams often impersonate well-known technology companies and scam the user into providing credit cards or other personal information, then attempt to extract money and other valuables in exchange for “fixing” the bogus issue.
These attacks pose a grave danger to the security of millions of consumers and businesses worldwide, especially on social media platforms and streaming services like YouTube.
These attacks typically aim to install ransomware and crypto-mining scripts that generate revenue for their attackers. However, other types of malware can also be distributed using this technique.
With the rise in digital ads, so too has the threat from cybercriminals using them for fraudulent activity. Malvertising has become one of the most prevalent methods for delivering malicious content to consumers.

How Can Malicious Ads Impact Cybersecurity?

How Can Malicious Ads Impact Cybersecurity?

What is Malvertising’s Role in Adware?

Malicious ads in cybersecurity refer to any form of malware that can harm your computer or mobile device. They could install viruses onto your system or even steal private data without your knowledge.
Malicious ads can be spread by malicious actors who purchase space from online advertising networks and then submit infected media or text ads that appear on legitimate websites – this practice is known as pre-click malvertising.
These sites may utilize client-side injections, malicious redirects, audio ads, clickjacking, video stuffing, and pixel stuffing, with devastating consequences for user experience and security.
Cybercriminals often employ malvertising to spread ransomware, cryptomining scripts, or banking Trojans. These malicious scripts run in the background, wreaking havoc on your system and violating your privacy.
Adware is software that can negatively impact your system performance by taking up bandwidth, memory, and data. It may also slow down or even shut down your machine completely.
Adware may alter your browser’s homepage or add spyware to your machine, as well as track your online activities and serve up targeted advertisements for you.
This type of software often comes bundled with free programs you knowingly download, making it difficult to uninstall or remove. Furthermore, it may collect your browser history and sell it to third parties.
By enabling ads to run within your web browser, you are giving these applications access to personal information and making money. Whether it’s to promote a game, movie, or product, adware is designed to track you across all devices and almost every web browser available today.
It’s an aggressive and intrusive piece of software that uses the “too good to be true” strategy to draw in victims. It follows them across all devices, such as Windows PCs and Macs, smartphones, and virtually any web browser.
Over time, malicious advertising techniques have become more sophisticated, one particularly dangerous being drive-by downloads. These attacks take advantage of any vulnerabilities in your browser or security software to inject exploit code into your computer without you clicking on the ad itself.

What is Malvertising's Role in Adware?

What is Malvertising’s Role in Adware?

What Does ‘Drive-By Download’ Mean in Malvertising?

Malvertising is an attack method in cybersecurity that involves criminals using malicious ads within ad networks to infect visitors’ devices with malware infections.
These attacks typically target users who fail to update their software or have security patches installed. Zero-day vulnerabilities allow attackers to infiltrate websites and inject malware into the user’s device, granting them access to private communications, session credentials, keyloggers, and botnet toolkits; in some cases, they may even encrypt data for ransomware purposes.
Malware campaigns often target popular websites with high traffic volumes and are seen as reliable. For instance, the popular music streaming service Spotify was used in a 2011 malware campaign targeting millions of customers.
Drive-by download infections are so named because victims don’t need to click or open a file in order for them to begin; rather, they simply access or browse a compromised website, and the malicious code begins downloading on their devices automatically.
At first, users may not notice anything amiss with their device; the only indication may be sluggishness or an app’s failure to respond. Unfortunately, this could be indicative of an infection in their system and require immediate action to remedy.
Cybercriminals can easily infect any website with malware through drive-by downloads, leading to threats such as spyware, Trojans, and ransomware. If not detected and removed promptly, these infections may lead to identity theft or financial fraudulence.
Fortunately, there are ways to protect your computer from this threat. Keep your operating system, web browsers, and applications up-to-date, and install new patches as soon as they become available.
Be cautious when downloading software and apps, particularly if they are unfamiliar. A reliable antivirus or antimalware program will automatically scan your device for known infections and remove them, protecting you from unauthorized downloads.
To prevent drive-by downloads, only install programs you know and trust, keeping those you use regularly. Furthermore, never use your device’s admin account for any program installations; always use a secondary non-admin account for everyday tasks like browsing.

What Does 'Drive-By Download' Mean in Malvertising?

What Does ‘Drive-By Download’ Mean in Malvertising?

How Can Malvertising Be Used for Phishing?

Malvertising is a type of cybercrime that involves the mixing together of malware with online ads. This type of ad is usually found on pornographic websites or other less-than-scrupulous sites that lack the resources or expertise to prevent malicious advertisements from showing up on their pages.
These ads often contain malware that installs itself via drive-by download, meaning the infected code runs in the background of your computer without you knowing about it. This can pose major security risks.
Some hackers use malvertising to launch DDoS attacks against networked computers, disrupting online services, stealing data, and compromising your identity.
Phishing attacks typically begin with an email. They may request sensitive information or ask that you click a link that takes you to a website containing malicious software.
They often attempt to instill a sense of urgency in their emails, stimulating an emotional response and convincing you that action must be taken quickly. Phishing is an efficient means for attackers to gain access to personal data, financial accounts, and business secrets.
Common methods to defend against phishing attacks involve user training, public awareness, and technical measures. Unfortunately, these won’t always be successful; therefore, you should bolster your defenses and consider other options as well.
One solution is to encourage your employees and contacts to sign up with DMARC, a service that verifies the legitimacy of an email. Doing this could help shield your organization from becoming synonymous with phishing scams and other types of financial fraud.
Another solution is to provide phishing-specific training for your staff. This will enable them to recognize phishing attacks and report them before they cause any harm to your company or its reputation.
Finally, installing a dedicated antivirus program on your devices can protect them from viruses and other malware, which are common ways for hackers to spread their damaging software. This is the best option for protecting against these threats.
Maintaining strong passwords and keeping them updated will protect your devices from various cyberattacks, such as phishing attempts, botnet attacks, and adware.

How Can Malvertising Be Used for Phishing?

How Can Malvertising Be Used for Phishing?

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