5 years ago customers who would come to me to fix their virus infection would ask, “where did this come from or how did I get it?” and my response was easy and straight forward. I’d say “you either opened a virus in an email, downloaded a free program that contained malware or from visiting unethical websites. Today we say, “just about anywhere”. Unfortunately for them, I am not being sarcastic.
This leads me to introduce Malvertising. Six or so years ago, malware makers decided to use the legal system to help their crooked venture. They started wrapping their malware in legitimate programs they would offer on the Internet for free or very little cost. These legitimate programs are called “freeware”. Not all “freeware” has malware but most do.
This is where customers ask, “why doesn’t my anti-virus product block it?”. This is where the legal loophole is. To make it so anti-virus software cannot label it as a virus or malware, they gave you the freeware which while being installed disclosed they were going to install another product. If you “Agree” to the terms, you just legally said you wanted this product even if you didn’t realize they were installing it. This is why it has become extremely important to read these terms of agreements on any program you install.
This leads us to Malvertising. Another crafty yet deceitful way to pay for advertising on really well-known websites such as “New York Times” and even Yahoo. These criminals create a shell company, buy advertising on websites and then lure you to click on the advertisement which brings you to a malicious website or get’s you to download freeware/malware. So to answer my customers question, “yes, you can get malware just by going to Yahoo.com!”.
I hope this helps explain why we make it our standard principle to block all non-business domains on business networks. The era of giving employees free rein to surf the internet on their workstation during their lunch break should have ended. The new era should be to provide a “dirty Internet” connection that they can use with their tablet, laptop or smart phone to surf as they wish.
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IT/IS Specialist & Owner of Multiple Computer Solutions, Inc.