Thursday, February 19, 2015

Infected Web Ads Now Spreading Malware

I've been following this story for a while now, and I’m starting to receive reports of malware infections from people using Google Chrome. The idea of using “malvertising” like Fessleak to exploit flaws in software like Adobe Flash doesn't just apply to ransomware either. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

First, I’m recommending using an ad-blocking extension to their browser such as Ad Block Plus (visit: https://adblockplus.org) or uBlock (uses less memory, see: https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock).

Second, your anti-virus software may not protect you from this type of attack. You need another layer of security like Malwarebytes (free, see http://malwarebytes.org) or a premium product like Norton Security ($50/year, http://us.norton.com/norton-security-antivirus) to help notify you of ads trying to insert malicious software onto your computer. This is not 100% protection, but it will catch more than anti-virus alone.

The bad guys are exploiting extensions like Adobe Flash Player, so make sure they are updated (see: http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ for more information). Your browser might keep it updated automatically, but better check to be sure.  You might also consider either disabling Flash entirely, or at least enabling “click-to-run” in your browser (see instructions here: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/flash-click-to-run-how-to,news-20422.html). Yes, it’s a pain especially when trying to view videos on news sites – Apple device users will know what I’m talking about. Proceed at your own risk.

Lastly, consider dumping Google Chrome for another browser such as Firefox or Safari. It’s a memory hog anyways, and the last malware problem I encountered only affected Chrome (for now anyways). Google may get around to closing the security hole at some point, but in the meantime I’m switching to something else. This is of course, a band-aid on the real problem, which is getting people to avoid suspicious websites and not click on email links.

This is intended to show how you can protect your personal and small business computers from this kind of attack. For larger organizations, consult your IT department. - TH

(Original article: Infected Web Ads Use Flash Flaws to Spread Ransomware, via TomsGuide)

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