Ads: Love or hate?

Lisandro Carmona de Souza, 11 September 2015

Ads: Love or hate?

Ad-injection is an increasingly annoying and dangerous problem

Ad injecting in action on Amazon Malvertising attacks. Image via Google Security Blog

There are basically two reactions people have when they see ads in their browser. Some think they add interesting content and possibilities, insights and ideas or even, opportunities. The other group considers them as a distraction, an invasion and a disruption to what they were doing.

But most everyone will agree, once you begin something on your laptop or mobile, especially if it's work-related task, you want to continue what you started. Lots of people get so into what they're doing that they don’t see or think of anything else, and when an unwelcome ad comes through, it breaks the concentration. Some will say this is a man's perspective. But even some women I talk to agree; even though they always say they are multitasking and (cough, cough) never lose focus.

When it comes to security, ads are becoming more and more a vehicle for malware. Ad-injecting malware is really a threat nowadays. Once on your device – computer or mobile – the malware will drop new ads into any (or most) sites you visit, sending ad revenue back to remote cybercriminals. For example, malicious porn ads use this type of redirection and clicking techniques.

Research conducted by Google from June to October of 2014 concluded that deceptive ad injection is a significant problem on the web today. They identified tens of millions of instances of ad injection and detected 5.3 million different IP addresses infected with adware, 5% of the total testing group. The research also found that Superfish, one of the notorious businesses that have ad injection libraries, was alive and well, not only pre-installed on Lenovo laptops, but breaking SSL protections for any other computer running it in background.

Ways to control unwanted ads in your browser

Inside Avast, we are convinced that adware toolbars and browser add-ons play an important role in the ads market.

Our Browser Cleanup feature detects millions of different adwares that target browsers.

TIP: Run Avast Browser Cleanup on your computer. It has identified more than 60 million different browser add-ons which are often bundled with free software, such as video players, Java and Flash updates.

Besides toolbars and browser add-ons, free software is often bundled with unwanted extra programs making it bloatware and a PUPs vector. Again, all the ad revenue is driven back to the bundles creators. Do we really need to see – and worse, have all that garbage installed in background?

TIP: Slow down when installing free software. Read all the screens and make sure you uncheck any boxes that ask you to install a 3rd party program that you don't know anything about. You may even consider testing it in the Avast Sandbox first.

Another door for unwanted ads to enter is through outdated software which can be a backdoor for malvertising.

TIP: Keep your browser and software up-to-date. Avast Software Updater can help you keep up with that task.

You could read our blog to learn how to reduce data collection of Windows 10 or to correctly set your Facebook settings. However, there are other measures when it comes to webpages. There are two major ad blockers for browsers: AdBlock and uBlock.

TIP: Visit our user forum to learn and discuss the right ads protection for you. You will find some of our Evangelists that can guide you with easy-to-understand hints.


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