How To Identify And Prevent Malware Found Lurking Behind Google Ads?

Cyber Security How-To

Cybercriminals do possess incredible ingenuity!. No matter what you do to protect your PC, they always find a new way to infiltrate it.

For those getting any wrong notions, I am not glorifying the cybercriminals by praising their ingenuity (wish they had used their brains for something creative) but on the other hand, I am trying to warn you that even that you have the best security measures installed in your PC, you are still not safe. You must always maintain constant vigilance over your activities on your computer and take immediate steps if you notice anything automated or something which you did not authorize.

Why Does Google Display Ads?

Google Display Ads
Image: Google

Google Ads are one of the most prominent sources of income for the California-based organization. There is nothing much you can do to avoid these ads and they appear on most web pages who in turn get paid to host Google ads on their pages. It is a service provided by Google where it pays and gets paid. However, recent reports have turned out to be shocking where these ads are laden with malware.

Cybercriminals have found out a new way to get information from your PC and that is to inject it with malware. But certainly, you would not allow them to do so? Hence they have started renting out Google Ads spaces which are disguised as the key to popular websites and apps like Signal & Telegram. When the user clicks on the malicious and fake Google ad, he/she is lured to download malware in the guise of popular software. The malware downloaded then executes itself and starts stealing your information and provides it to the hacker.

How was this discovered?

eSentire
Image: eSentire

eSentire is a cybersecurity firm that has recently discovered and shared the details about Google Ads campaigns that are used to lure people to fake web pages that represent legitimate and popular products. These web pages are either replicated to appear as near duplicates of the original. One of the fraudulent pages identified was of a popular IM app, Signal which has gained popularity recently after the controversial WhatsApp policy changes.

Cybersecurity experts at eSentire report that when the user navigates to these fake web pages through Google ads, the download link provided on the page does not download the genuine software but rather pushes some sort of AutoIT script. This then deploys the Redline Stealer, one of the most notorious malware that is used to steal information.

Redline
Image: Google

These people with malicious intent purchase Google ads and then advertise the fake web pages in those spaces. There seems to have been some sort of investment done here although the purchase made could be through stolen credit cards and other illegal methods. However, the ads banners and web pages created can be considered as exact replicas of the original software pages which means there has been some sort of time, effort, and money involved as described by Spence Hutchinson, Manager of Threat Intelligence for eSentire. The data retrieved through malware can be sold on the dark web or used for fraud campaigns

Ways to Prevent Malware Intrusion from Google Ads

List of Contents

There are two ways to prevent malware from entering your PC and we have described them below in detail.

Method 1: Use An Adblocker Extension

Adblocker Extension

Ad blockers are extensions that can be added to your browsers that block ads and thus save the internet data as well as load pages faster. But in reality, these extensions help to block trackers and malware that are hidden within the ads and prevent any sort of intrusion. There are many such extensions but we would like to highlight StopAll Ads which is an open-source extension available for free.

  • StopAll Ads disables Social Media features on a website.
  • Hampers website tracking feature.
  • Protects against Malware.
  • Uses a smart filter to allow acceptable ads.
  • Do not maintain a record of browsing activities.

Method 2: Use An Antivirus with Real-Time Exploit Protection

Antivirus

An antivirus application is designed to scan, identify and eliminate virus and malware from your system based on the virus definitions that are regularly updated. However, there are a few antivirus software that are designed to identify potential threats in real-time and provide exploit protection when an unknown file is executed on your PC. One such application that can help prevent malware intrusion from Google ads is Systweak Antivirus.

  • Systweak Antivirus provides real-time protection on a 24/7 basis and is always on.
  • Facilitates different scan modes as per the needs of the customer.
  • Ensures Secure Web Browsing via StopAll Ads module integrated within.
  • Helps to delete startup items that slow down the boot time of your computer.
  • Improves overall system performance and is a one-stop solution.

The Final Word on How to identify and prevent Malware found lurking behind Google Ads.

Malware is a threat faced by any computer user when connected to the internet. Although we can use various security measures, we can never be truly safe. It is recommended to use the best possible measures and in the case of malware intrusion via ads, we can use an ad-blocking extension or a powerful antivirus that identifies threats in real-time. One important factor to make your choice is the fact that StopAll Ads is an ad blocker extension that is available for free of cost while Systweak Antivirus is a paid application with loads of features to keep your PC safe and secure while maintaining your privacy at the same time. Follow us on social media – FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

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