Bad ads have a higher probability of being visible to you during holidays, such as Valentine day – when people are looking for presents, bargain deals or ideas for a romantic gateway or dinner out.

I am not talking about unethical advertising that pushes bad products, but about ads that may lead to cybersecurity breaches. You may have heard of the “bad ads” that infect your computer with a virus or dupe you into giving up your personal and sensitive information through phishing.

Back in 2014, you may have even been one of those people if you were among thousands of users whose computers were infected with malware after visiting Yahoo’s Web site late in 2013 and early 2014. The malware was delivered via malicious advertisements that appeared on the site. If you have Java enabled in your browser, this is yet another sign you need to disable it now.

Attackers had inserted malware if the form of advertisements, into the servers used by Users who clicked on legitimately looking ads were redirected to a page that hosted the Java vulnerability exploit kit known as Magnitude. Once malware was transferred to the vulnerable system,  the exploit kit installed a variety of different malware on victim’s computers.

hacking through bad advertisement

What types of bad ads should you watch out for when thinking of cybersecurity?

Phishing Ads:

There are known phishing websites out there – they typically mimic legitimate resources and ask you to provide your personal and sensitive date in order to “log in”, “confirm”, or “get access to” a resource or a supposed account. Sometimes even legitimate sites may be infected with phishing malware. Most big name anti-virus software provides Anti-Phishing protection option. Enabled by default it can block websites known to distribute phishing content. However, some of the newest threats may not be on the antivirus programs radar yet, and being on alert and watching out for phishing ads that can lead to sites that try to scam you to gain access to your information is very important.

Trick to Click Ads 

is an online advertisement that is designed to trick site visitors into clicking it for the purpose of increasing the click-through rate (CTR) for their website. A trick banner is also known as a deceptive banner. While this type of bad ads may not always cause harm as phishing ads do, this type of deception allows site owners make money by permitting trick banner ads on their websites to dishonestly lead traffic to another site, and in the end, they compromise the trust of the site’s visitors.

Trick to click ads can come in form of:

  • ads that pretend to be a system or site warning;
  • ads that mimic or resemble your operation system Windows, Mac, Chrome OS etc.) dialogue boxes, error message, etc.;
  • ads that cannot be clearly distinguishable as ads and separate from the page’s content.

Unwanted (unrequested) Software Installation Ads:

A most of the unwanted software displays one or more of the same basic characteristics:

  • It is deceptive by nature: it can trick you into installing it or it can sneak in through the installation of another program; after installation, it is often bundled with other programs in ways that prevent you from being aware of their presence.
  • It affects the user’s system in unexpected ways.
  • It is difficult to remove.
  • It collects or transmits private information without you being aware of it.

Some companies are fighting back – for example, in 2015, as a result of their blocking efforts Google disabled upwards of 780 million ads in 2015 and blocked almost 7,000 phishing sites for violating Google’s policies. Bing’s 2016 bad ad report confirmed that Bing Ads blocked 130 million ads and banned 175,000 advertisers in 2016.

As bad ads are evolving and getting smarter and more deceptive, it should also be your individual responsibility to be educated about best and safest practices of using the internet and it’s resources, and be vigilant about your personal and business privacy and safety of your data.


Are your computers and data properly protected? Having problems beyond phishing and bad ads? We can help!

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