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Web Ads Increasingly Encouraging Viruses and Malware

With cyber-attacks through malicious software having become exhausted with the distribution of every possible online substance, adware is following suit.

During the end week of May 2009, Internet surfers, visiting the online forum of a British media and entertainment news website Digital Spy, came in contact with an advertisement, which installed malware onto their PCs, suggesting the obvious that hackers had compromised the site.

Moreover, EWeek.com a website for technology news under the ownership of Ziff Davis Enterprise, during February 2009, was loaded with an advertisement on its top page that pretended to promote the shirt manufacturer, LaCoste. Here too, instead of the retailer, an offensive hacker had planted the ad with the purpose of taking visitors onto a malicious website that served harmful program downloads on their PCs, said director of community and content Stephen Wellman for Ziff Davis. Wall Street Journal reported this on June 15, 2009.

Furthermore, several attacks of the kind mentioned have taken place in 2009, as people behind them exploit the complicated makeup of entrepreneurial relationships across online advertising among a large number of resellers and middlemen.

Say Web security specialists that they have observed a rise in the total number of advertisements hosting malicious software because of the economic turmoil and also because of publishers, who in efforts to raise their ad earnings, engage outsiders to sell their ad-space.

Also the ads could be incorporated with viruses so that just by clicking one or by going to the site, a visitor could have his computer infected. Alternatively, ads could be maliciously utilized for redirecting users onto a disreputable website that only captures passwords and other credentials. Often, the problem is detected in a few hours and fast remedies are deployed, however, not as fast as computers of Internet surfers get infected.

Further, over 100,000 spyware programs including Trojan horses, keyloggers and adware are currently circulating online. These are first seen when users on a known website find pop-up ads emerging at random that cause frustration. Sometimes these pop-ups might suggest that the problem could be solved if users buy security software but that turns out false.

Related article: Web Browsers Too Have Security Exploits

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