Can Reputable Websites be sources of Computer Viruses?
In the past users have been given the advice that in order to be “safe” online (making purchases, viewing articles or clicking on links) to visit only reputable websites. To some extent this is still true, however virus makers are exploiting reputable websites in order to infect users with malware to make money. A recent article, Huffington Post Among Several Major Websites That May Have Infected Computers with Virus explains how this happens.
The weakness occurs in the advertisements on a website (provided by third party advertising networks). The buying of advertisements can occur so quickly that criminals can use these channels to deliver malware to an unsuspecting user. Criminals putting malware in advertisements is so pervasive that websites like Huffington Post, AOL, LA Weekly and Houston Press have hosted infected advertisements. It’s difficult for the websites to catch these ads because unlike in the past when an advertisement was a static picture, a website could simply scan the ad and detect malicious intent. Today ads are a stream of information and the owner of the ad could change the source of the information after the ad has passed “inspection.” For websites, like Huffington Post who sees a lot of traffic it puts a lot of users at risk. To make matters worse there has been instances when users didn’t even have to click on the ads in order to be infected if they were running an old version of an Internet browser.
Protecting your business or personal data requires keeping aware of threats to your security. Here are a few tips to minimize prevention:
- Have good anti-virus protection. We recommend Malwarebytes or Vipre.
- Make sure you are keeping your operating system and software updated. If you are running Windows XP, check out our other post on the risks of using an XP machine.
- Keep updated and educated about risks to your PC. Our blog is always a good place to start
It’s always a good idea to consult your IT support to discuss your particular needs. We are always available to assist you with your security concerns.