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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Malvertising is a word that has been bouncing around the internet for a while now. It refers to an increasingly common type of online hack, which involves infected links hidden in advertisements online.

However, many marketers fail to realize the significance of this seemingly simple and common hack. In reality, if you aren't versed in the risks and security elements around malvertising, then it's possible that all of your future campaigns could be affected – and not in a positive way. 

Here's the basic scoop that will allow you a good understanding of this nasty type of malware and keep you and your work safe in the future.

What Is Malvertising?

Simply put, malvertising is what is says on the tin: malicious advertising. It takes the visual form of an advert for a website or service that, when clicked, will redirect your computer to criminal servers. From here, there may be a virus which finds its way into your computer or a malicious hacker on the other end trying to farm your bank details.

While some cases of malware, such as the classic porn pop-up, are easy to spot as they seem obviously out of place, some are not so blatant. Often, cybercriminals will use legitimate channels to ensure their advert is placed on a website. Because the infected code is so well camouflaged, site owners and visitors will regularly not be aware there's even a problem until it's too late and the damage has been done.

Malvertising and Me

For bloggers, marketers and small businesses, being aware of the potential effect malvertising could have on your online endeavors is essential. While many of us find ourselves procrastinating when working and clicking on obscure links to quench our boredom, this simple practice could secure your role as a victim of malvertising.

Here's why you don't want that to happen: once malware has accessed your computer, particularly when gaining entry unnoticed, it can cause havoc in your files. A worst-case scenario could include important work documents corrupting or even sensitive customer and client information finding its way into the public domain.

 As well as the frustration and stress required to put right these situations, there's even the possibility of financial loss. This could be via the infiltration of your bank details or through having to pay compensation to a business affiliate whose data you also lost during the attack.

Malvertising & Marketing

Unfortunately, it's not just in terms of our own personal security that malvertising can become a nuisance. If you're running any type of online marketing, promotion or sales campaign then it's also imperative that you take steps to secure yourself from one of these ads jumping on your operation and causing problems for both yourself and your customers.

The main reason for this is to protect the face of your brand. Online reputation is a powerfulthing and companies who fail to properly harness the power of an expansive and positive online presence very often fall short. So when a customer is alerted to potential malware on your website and they subsequently avoid your domain and company like the plague, this is bad news for business. Once the message spreads, it could be enough to bring down your whole brand.

How To Stay Safe

Fortunately, there are several layers of protection and security practices you can apply to every element of your internet use to ensure that all your hard work doesn't become insignificant thanks to a full-blown malvertising attack. These few steps will take you on your way to securing yourself from any significant problems, both with your personal systems and your visible marketing campaigns.

·         Be stringent with clicking. By far the best way to avoid contracting a virus from a malvertising link is not to click on it. When surfing the internet, be sure only to click on trusted sources.
·         Pick the right security suite. There are many great antivirus packages out there that will give you strong automatic protection from infections trying to enter your computer. Picking the right one for your needs is essential so be sure to do some research. 

·         Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). To avoid third-party injections of malicious malvertising code on websites that you run, be sure to use a VPN when away from your office to stop remote hackers gaining access to your admin panel. SecureThoughts provides VPN reviews if you want more information on this. 

·         Employ website specific security. There are several great plugins available, particularly if you have built your site with WordPress. These will provide dedicated antivirus protection and will alert you to suspicious code. 

It's true that malvertising is on the rise and there is a significant threat to all those who use the internet to promote or share content. However, it most certainly isn't anywhere near a doomsday situation just yet. By employing these simple strategies, you can markedly reduce your chance of contracting malware or hosting it on your website or blog.

Have you encountered malvertising while working on your own projects? How did it affect you? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author: Caroline is a technology blogger and internet security expert who has their fair share of marketing experience. She knows how closely connected security and promotion can be and wants to share all she knows to help make the internet a safer place! 


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