Malvertising – How to Protect Yourself from Malicious Advertisements?

You can face many online threats when you surf online, and these threats don’t only hide on malicious websites. By accident, you can infect your computer with malware when visiting trusted sites if you are not careful. The reason? Malvertising!

Advertising is an essential component of the internet. Most of the biggest tech companies earn a large revenue from safe and harmless advertisements, but some of the successful cybercriminals also rely on ads.

It is no surprise that the best way to spread malware is through advertisement. But there are some ways you can protect yourself. Want to know how? Read this article, and you’ll learn about the risks, examples, and prevention from malicious ads.

What Is Malvertising, and How Does It Work?

When a good ad is tricked into carrying malware is called Malvertising. More often, Malvertising comes through ads from legitimate websites.

Malvertising is sometimes confused with adware- none of them are what you may call safe advertisements because both of them rely on advertising to do the damage.

You can become a victim of malware by clicking on an infected advertisement or visiting a website that is home to a manipulated ad.

Cybercriminals can set up malvertising attacks by buying ad space from networks and submitting infected content with malicious code. Their aim is that legitimate sites run these ads, and when you click on them, believing them to be legitimate ads, it can infect your computer.

Malvertising Depends on Three Stages:

  • The attacker needs to fool the advertising network and contravene their terms without being caught.
  • They need to create malware that exploits a technical vulnerability.
  • At last, the infected ad needs to socially engineer users into clicking the ad that compromises their security or that of their organization.

Related: What Is a Spoofing Attack and How To Prevent Spoofing Attacks?

Risks of Malvertising

Malvertising can pose many risks to you and your organization. Here are the most intimidating risks.

Your Computer Can Get Infected

Malicious ads can spread viruses and other malicious software on your computer without you even knowing. Hackers can use it to track your activities, steal your passwords, or take over your computer.

Hackers Can Seize Your Financial Information

Some malicious ads are designed to trick you into giving up your personal information, mainly your financial information like bank account numbers and banking passwords. Once the hacker gains access to your financial information, they can drain your account before you notice.

Hackers Can Run Up Your Credit Card Debt

If hackers gain access to your credit card information, they can use your card to make purchases for them. If you don’t check your credit card statements regularly, the result in you might end up paying for the purchases you haven’t made.

Examples of Malvertising

Malvertising comes in many forms that can pose risks to your sensitive data. Following are some common examples of Malvertising:


Most malicious ads redirect you to spoof sites that look legitimate, but in actuality, they are set for phishing attacks. After clicking on them, cybercriminals try to trick you into giving up your sensitive information, such as your social credentials, security numbers, bank account information, credit card numbers, etc. These sites are designed as clones of legitimate sites, which can be web pages of banks, credit card providers, or credit unions.


It is one of the main types of Malvertising, which works proactively and quickly infects your device. This form of malware populates legitimate sites and can be the website you might visit every day that has infected banners and box ads. When you click on these ads, they could infect your device by installing viruses, trojans, and other types of malware.

This type of malicious software can be extremely dangerous because it operates in the background without you even noticing. Using this software, hackers can steal your personal data, track your keystrokes and monitor your email addresses for some evil purposes.

No click Malvertising

If you don’t ever click on ads, don’t think you’re entirely safe from Malvertising. Here comes the scary part: no click malvertising, or we can say “drive-by-downloads,” is a form of Malvertising that doesn’t require any user action and leaves you open to a cyberattack. A user doesn’t need to click on anything like download buttons or email attachments and unintentionally download malware from a malicious script. It can start infecting your device with spyware or malware when the infected page starts loading.

This type of Malvertising can take advantage of outdated apps, operating systems, or web browsers that contain security flaws.

Related: Security Services to Monitor Personal Data Breaches

How To Prevent From Malicious Ads?

You can not detect a malicious advertisement that aims to steal your data or get you in more trouble. But it’s possible to avoid interacting with a website or entering personal information to defend against it. For a successful defense against Malvertising, users should cooperate with security professionals, and organizations should bolster their defense against malware and look out for other social engineering tactics like phishing attacks. Here’s what an individual user and organizations can do:

For Endpoint Users

Turn on the “click to play” option in your browser. This option will help you to turn off automatic downloads and plugins. Once this feature is turned on, you’ll be asked first if you want to download a given item every time.

  • Use a premium ad-blocker for personal systems that work on company resources. Paid software is always more likely to be effective than free ones.
  • Invest in antivirus software. After installing an antivirus program on your device, promptly approve any updates.
  • Don’t click on offers that look too good to be true.
  • Try to avoid visiting shady websites, especially on work-connected devices.

For Organizations

  • Adopt the art of patch management.
  • Deploy malware detection tools such as Sitelock that scan your website daily for malware.
  • Using mobile security solutions like unified endpoint management (UEM) is usually an AI-based program.
  • Maximize security awareness among employees by conducting cybersecurity workshops.

The bottom line

No matter what browser you use or what website you visit, it would be best not to trust any advertisement. And if the ad offer is too good to be true, it’s a red flag. When it comes to Malvertising, we all must expect the unexpected. Effective ads bring results, so that is why Malvertising is an effective way of attacking systems.

It’s best to avoid ads and stay prepared with AEserver’s reliable shared hosting. Use the right tools and training to protect yourself and your organization from malicious ads.

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