I often get asked whether there is any danger associated with visiting websites that are considered “safe.”
The short answer is, yes. Even ‘safe’ websites can threaten the security of the most careful Internet user.
Let me explain.
First, by “safe” I mean the websites we all go to almost every day and assume are safe.
It might be a website you frequently check for updates on news, sports, weather, entertainment, or celebrity gossip. It may even be a website you go to for specials when looking to make a purchase.
Basically, it’s any website you use regularly and believe is “safe” because you’re not aware of every having a problem after visiting that particular website. Most likely, these are websites you’ve bookmarked and feel certain they won’t harm your computer or steal your information if you visit the website.
And, most of the time, that’s true.
But, not all of the time.
Because of the growing threat of malvertising.
As Dark Reading correctly reports in “The Truth About Malvertising”:
“Malicious advertisements, or “malvertising” for short, present arguably the fastest growing and least understood online threat today.” [emphasis added]
“The technique, used to distribute malware on popular websites via online advertising networks, was responsible for an exponential number of attacks in 2014. This past week, The Huffington Post and several major websites presented visitors with advertisements that infected computers with ransomware, locked them down, and demanded money from victims to get back control of their devices.
“Malvertisements can appear on any website at any given time, and there is little that the website owner can do to prevent them. That’s because they are planted on Web pages via third-party ad delivery networks. These networks auction website placements to advertisers using a high bid, free market system. There is currently very little oversight in this industry. …
“In the third quarter of 2014 alone, almost 200,000 malvertising examples were detected on live websites.” [emphasis added]
What’s the danger from malvertising?
“[M]alvertising accounts for huge sums of financial fraud and is responsible for the theft of personally identifiable data. Meanwhile, most organizations lack the tools to monitor and mitigate this problem. Since there still isn’t any consensus on who is responsible for addressing these threats, no formal processes have been put in place and the problem continues to increase in size and velocity.” [emphasis added]
So what can you do to avoid being harmed by malvertising?
My personal solution is simple and one you should follow.
Don’t click on any advertisements on any webpage at any website.
End of problem.
But wait – what if you want to take advantage of an advertisement – what should you do?
Simple. Go directly to the website of the company the advertisement is supposed to represent.
For example, if you’re on a favorite website that you believe to be safe and see an advertisement for the ABCD Company that you want to take advantage of, don’t click on the advertisement. Instead, open a separate browser window and go directly to the ABCD Company website. If the advertisement is legitimate, it will be easily located on the website you’ve independently opened.
It’s that simple to avoid the dangers of malvertising.
Be sure to share this with your friends and family.
And please write me at [email protected] and let me know if this was helpful!
Be safe, secure and free!
Rob Douglas – Former Washington DC Private Detective and Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist
Freedom Writers Publishing
1815 Central Park Dr. #358
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487