I've written repeatedly about the critical importance of keeping your computer updated with the latest versions of your Internet software. And if my previous attempts have not yet convinced you, I hope today's news will finally motivate you to download and install the most current patches, fixes and updates.
Today's cyberattack is spread through Google's DoubleClick ad service. DoubleClick supplies ads to tens of thousands of websites around the world. The service allows sites to earn money from your visits and in return provide the services and information you enjoy for free. But some of these ads hide a sinister goal spreading dangerous malware to hijack your computer, steal your info and spread the nasty virus to your friends. Known as "malvertizing," I've already covered other dangerous cases in the past where cybercriminals spread viruses by buying ad space.
I'm taking this attack personally, because I use Google's service for my site. I've done some research on who may be infected and here's what I've come up with so far:
- The infected ads primarily target people using the very old Windows XP.
- Other vulnerabilities include out-of-date versions of Adobe Flash Player and Internet Explorer.
- After infecting your computer, the malware quickly downloads many other virus programs to suck up your bandwidth, steal personal information and add your computer to a "botnet."
The biggest at-risk group of people for infection by this latest malware is those who fail to install the latest computer updates.
I don't like that computer hackers may have used the ads to spread their malware. It's good to hear, however, that all of my listeners would have been almost totally protected from the malware by simply following my ongoing advice.
As a quick refresher, here are some of the basic steps that you can take to completely protect yourself:
- Keep Windows and Internet Explorer up to date.
- Make sure that you're using the latest version of Adobe's accident-prone Flash Player.
- Always keep anti-virus software on your computer up to date.
Viruses and malware are almost an inevitability online. While it's frustrating to see Google get fooled by letting hackers use their servers to distribute harmful software, I'll say it one more time: Anyone who followed my advice is completely safe from hacker attack.
Google has said that they're "dealing with the problem," so that means that this malware will probably be off of their servers either today or tomorrow. Knock on wood, I guess.