Malvertising is a cyber threat found in malicious advertising. In this case, hackers use advertising to spread malware. The scary part about malvertising is hackers can insert these malicious advertisements into legitimate webpages, making them all the more difficult to spot.
Not only are the ads difficult to spot, but they are difficult to regulate and control as well. Large numbers of these ads are spread throughout advertising networks daily. This is makes is very difficult for networks to perform thorough analysis of every ad. Often, companies rely on third party vendors or software to manage their online ads. This is make it even more difficult to spot every ad and manage what is being put out into the online world.
How does it work?
A small piece of code is hidden deep within a legitimate looking advertisement, which will direct the user’s machine to a compromised server. An exploit kid hosted on that server will execute once the users device makes a successful connection. The hacker can then install malware using a security bypass created by the exploit kit. When malware is successfully installed, it opens a world of opportunity and data to the jacker. A hacker could perform numerous actions such as extracting sensitive or financial information. The worst part of it all; this entire process happens incognito. The user has no idea their device is infected.
Of course, there are ways to spot malware, and certain things you can look for when you think your device may be infected. We go over mischievous malware here.
Who has been infected?
Anyone can fall victim to malvertising. In fact, some major companies have been previously infected with malvertising such as Reuters, The Daily Mail, and Huffington Post.
Let’s look at Huffington Post as an example. The attackers use a mix of HTTP and HTTPS redirects to hide the malicious servers in the attack. The analysis was extremely difficult, and it was difficult to uncover the hidden malware.
Researchers suspected attackers used the NeutrinoEK exploit kit or the Sweet Orange exploit kit, which served Adobe Flash and VB script exploits to then download the malicious executable, known as the Kovter trojan.
In the end, it was confirmed that the company took all necessary steps to clear up the cyber threat.
What can you do to avoid malvertising?
Avoiding a cyber threat like malvertising is quite difficult due to its inconspicuous nature, but there are things you can do to help prevent a cyber threat like malvertising.
First of all, It is extremely important to have a reliable security solution in place. If you don’t know where to start with this, talk to your IT provider to learn more about security options.
Second, make sure to update your browser, software, and OS regularly. Developers are always releasing new versions of software to help battle new threats. Remember that the tech world changes daily, so keeping your computer up to date is very important.
Third, avoid bad websites. Check to make sure websites are secure, and its a legitimate, well known company.
Finally, do not click on sketchy advertisements. If you see something enticing in an advertisement, visit the website directly from your browser or call the company to make sure it is legit. Avoiding websites and bad ads wont always help you fight cyber threats, so its extremely important to keep up on updates to your computer/software and incorporate security solutions.
If you want to learn more about how Magnitech’s security solutions, contact us today!