The nastiest ad is malware
With more and more antivirus detections now triggered by malvertising, Avira has integrated an adblocker into its browser security extensions. The new feature equips users with an additional security layer that helps even further to block out intrusive and malicious advertising as well as to stop pesky ads.
Malvertising is a combination of ‘malicious’ and ‘advertising‘. Typical malvertising activities directing internet surfers to ads for dubious or fraudulent products, surreptitiously tracking online activities, and directly injecting malware into the user’s device. This can happen through an exploit kit or via social engineering. “The problem of malvertising is growing, the online ad market is systemically vulnerable, so we are doing what is needed to protect our users today and in the future,” said Markus Hartung, Technical Lead Extension Development.
Ads are the new face of malware
An Avira study found that nearly one out of every four detections from its Avira URL Cloud (AUC) – 894,000 – during a month-long test could be tracked to the domain of five advertising networks. “With 24 percent of our detections already linked to ad networks, this is a statistically significant channel for cyber criminals to exploit,” stated Markus Hartung. “We believe this channel will continue to grow and be exploited.”
Data says this is big
The Avira study was based on a sample group of 11.5 million unique active devices during the month of February 2017. During this period, these devices triggered 3.67 million detections by the Avira URL Cloud – basically one detection for every three users during the month. The vast majority of these detections were for malware (2.4 million) followed by phishing (817,000), malicious search engines (311,000), and potentially unwanted apps.
Within this pool of antivirus detections, 894,000 came from five advertising networks. “We knew the problem was big, but this surprised us. We also believe the problem is even bigger as there are a number of smaller advertising networks which are not on the top five list but still pumping out suspicious ads,” he added.
- Top 5 Domains for Detections
- traffichaus.com – 390,000
- adnetworkperformance.com – 190,000
- facebookdating.link – 111,000
- hilltopads.net – 102,000
- adhoc1.net – 101,000
- total – 894,000
Malvertising is an industry issue – why make it yours?
The surge in malvertising comes amid tough times in the publishing industry as readers move from traditional print media to online publications – and chase a shrinking pie of advertising revenue. Within this environment, advertisements are becoming more intrusive as they track user activities and publishers are unable to control the quality and security of the ads displayed on their pages.
Previously, Avira Browser Safety (ABS) and the Avira Safe Shopping extension focused their ad blocking activities to malicious content. “As the ads have evolved, it was important to take a more proactive approach to protect our users. Consequently, these security products now contain a full-featured adblocker that will block all ads – not just the malicious ones,” explained Markus. This new tactic is called Defense in Depth.
These products will now block ads as the default setting, with users able to easily decide, with two simple clicks, what specific sites they are willing to accept ads from. To make this step, Avira has partnered with AdGuard, integrating their technology and blocking lists into the Avira products. The new adblocker is available in these Avira browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
Adblocker – no hassle to get and use
The new adblock feature is available at no cost and is incorporated into the Avira Browser Safety (for the Mozilla Firefox browser and Opera browser) and Avira Safe Shopping (for the Google Chrome browser) extensions. ABS is visible as a small shield icon in the upper right-hand corner of the browser.