MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) –
Fake ads in search results are taking users to phishing sites and spreading malware. Whether you’re using Google, Bing, or Safari as your internet browser it doesn’t matter; be careful when clicking on ads.
That’s the warning coming directly from the FBI.
Cybercriminals are impersonating popular and well-known brands and they’re using ads on search engines to do it. It’s knowns as “Malvertising.”
They’re pretty slick too. Most of these ads are right at the top of the page and look legit. The problem is, when you click on the bait, the fake ads take you to malicious sites hosting malware and ransomware.
The FBI says it can be easy to fall victim. The sites often use the same branding and design of the actual site, but when users logged on, they allow the scammer to gain access to your account information.
TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF
The FBI recommends individuals take the following precautions:
- Before clicking on an advertisement, check the URL to make sure the site is authentic. A malicious domain name may be similar to the intended URL but with typos or a misplaced letter.
- Rather than search for a business or financial institution, type the business’s URL into an internet browser’s address bar to access the official website directly.
- Use an ad blocking extension when performing internet searches. Most internet browsers allow a user to add extensions, including extensions that block advertisements. These ad blockers can be turned on and off within a browser to permit advertisements on certain websites while blocking advertisements on others.
The FBI recommends businesses take the following precautions:
- Use domain protection services to notify businesses when similar domains are registered to prevent domain spoofing.
- Educate users about spoofed websites and the importance of confirming destination URLs are correct.
- Educate users about where to find legitimate downloads for programs provided by the business.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud or malware based on brand impersonation from search engine advertisements, report the fraud to your local FBI field office at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/fieldoffices. The FBI also encourages victims to report fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
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