Malvertising is one of the latest ways for bad guys to get bad stuff
onto your computer. Here's how it works: You visit a website, click on
an ad, and get directed to another site that tells you your computer
needs an update and encourages you to download phony software that will
"fix" the problem. The software then infects your computer with
problematic malware or spyware.
Here's catch #1: Some malvertising doesn't require you to click on the
ad. Just its presence on the site you've navigated to can give it
access to your computer. Here's catch #2: This phenomenon isn't just
happening on "sketchy" websites; it's happening on reputable sites such
as YouTube and Reuters.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:
1. Don't click ads that seem too good to be true, such as those that
offer money, gifts, discounts, or anything else for free.
2. Ensure your operating system is up to date. Operating systems
typically update automatically. When they do, be sure to follow the
instructions to leave your computer on.
3. Set security settings on your browser to detect sites with
malvertising. For example, in Chrome, in the Settings section, click
Show Advanced Settings. Under Privacy, ensure the Enable Phishing and
Malware Protection box is checked.
4. Disable Flash. There will be a different process, depending on which
browser you use. For Chrome, go to Settings and click on Show Advanced
Settings. Under Privacy, click Content Settings. In the new screen,
under Plug-ins, choose Click to Play.
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