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Security & privacy

Bad malware ads are hijacking good websites

There’s nothing more frustrating than surfing the web and having ads pop up in the middle of your viewing.

Annoying ads are one thing, and honestly, we get it, ads pay the bills and keep us from having to pay for access to websites.

But what happens when those ads are actually loaded with malware? Recently there have been complaints about more of these hard to close, misleading, and malicious ads popping up on big and small websites. It’s called Malvertising and it’s nothing new, but it is rapidly growing.

You’ve been hijacked!

The malware ads typically redirect your browser to a spam site or app store to try to force you to download some kind of software.

Get me out!

Even when you try to click the X or the close link, the ad still directs your computer to an unwanted site. Trying to get out of it is challenging and typically you have to get out of everything, including the site or story you were looking for in the first place.

The problem is now even legitimate online publishers like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are seeing an increasing number of malware ads pop up on their sites. We can’t really blame the publishers on this one.

Online advertising is quite different than print or broadcast advertising. In those cases, ads are submitted directly by advertisers and reviewed and approved by publishers. But online ads have a much more complex system. Advertisers bid on the number of impressions and target specific users through custom codes. So it would be nearly impossible for a publisher to review every version of every ad.

What can you do?

Your best action is no action, meaning don’t click the ads! Publishers are fighting back by forcing adtech companies to root out the malicious ads and they are increasingly using browsers to try to weed them out.

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