All of us are quite aware of the presence of banner ads that flash out of nowhere. To top this off, we also have those oh-so-annoying pop up ads that surface as you browse a website. Most people would probably think that these are generally a pain in the neck – albeit relatively harmless content- that you can just shy away from and continue with your day. However, what many of us do not realise is that these random ads carry the most viruses. Yes, you read that right. These ads are carriers of viruses such as malware or spyware. Once these enter your computer, they can immediately eat your files, steal your information, and slowly make your hardware obsolete.
Coming to terms with the basics
These dangerous ads are usually found in websites that can attract a lot of traffic but lack in reputation. Some examples are flash game and porn sites, torrent sites, movie streaming and music download pages. Since the creators of the viruses know that many people are visiting these types of sites, they take the opportunity to place their virus-filled ads directly in them so that they can make the lives of visitors harder in return for easy profit. Do take note that not all ads are dangerous. You just have to know which ones can pose as threats. Here are some examples:
1. Unwanted Pop-up Ads
Sometimes when we click on a link or visit a website, a random ad might just emerge out of nowhere. Most of us would probably think that this is just another annoying pop up that some businesses put there to advertise products. Now, more often than not, the moment the ad pops up, it is already infecting your computer. Hordes of malware, adware, and spyware are filled in it and once it appears on your desktop, the viruses are in.
2. Banner Ads
All of us have seen those flashy banner ads in torrent websites. What many of us don’t know is that these ads are full of viruses that can kill your computer. Usually they feature “Click Here” or “Download” buttons that may confuse even the savviest of website visitors. For example, if you are visiting a torrent website and want to download the torrent, there is a possibility that you may have clicked on a fake “Download” button that is part of a banner ad by accident. They are designed to look like real buttons so that people may be tricked into clicking them.
Now that we know where most of these malware and spyware viruses stem out from, we now can discuss how to prevent them from entering your computer. Here are a few things you can do today to take set up a solid counterattack.
1. Use the Simple Adblock
Most browsers would allow you to download an Ad blocker extension that will prevent pop-up windows that have viruses from appearing. Adblock is one of the most efficient and effective ad blockers on the internet. It immediately detects an annoying ad site and blocks it from popping out. You’ll receive a message on the top right corner of your screen letting you know that Adblock was able to block the ad.
In order to launch the Simple Adblock, all you have to do is go to the Settings option of Chrome and click on “More Tools”. Under that, click on “Extensions” and you will be redirected to a page with a list of extensions that can be directly installed in your browser. Click on “Get More Extensions” and type “Adblock” on the space bar provided. There will be an option which allows you to download Adblock for free. Once it is downloaded, you can launch it and start automatically blocking ads. If you want to stop the Adblock, all you have to do is click on the Adblock button and click on “Pause Adblock”. When you pause the Adblock, the random ads will start popping out again without any interception from Google Chrome.
2. Use Adblock Plus
Adblock Plus offers many more features. You can get this version the same way you get the normal Adblock. Now, let’s talk about some of the added features of Adblock Plus. While Adblock simply blocks ads, it does not block all signs of malware like the ones that can be found in the fake download buttons. It offers an option known as “Malware Blocking” that can intercept malware. It also has a “Remove Social Media Buttons” option that will let Chrome get rid of social media buttons for you automatically. Just like the Facebook Like or the Twitter Retweet. This is because clicking on these buttons may track your behavior. Lastly, it can disable tracking from ad companies on the internet with the “Disable Tracking” feature. Some ad companies would often follow people in order to blast more ads to them. The “Disable Tracking” option washes away your tracks so that ad companies won’t be able to find you.
Adblock Plus will also tell you how many ads and websites were blocked. Adblock Plus will also provide a list of the websites and links of the ads that were intercepted for your reference. If you want to disable Adblock Plus for a given period of time, then you just have to click on the Adblock Plus icon and click on “Enabled on this site”. This will disable Adblock Plus only on the site that you are currently looking at. If you have another site that you want Adblock Plus not to intercept, then just repeat the process.
3. Use Google Safe Browsing
Just recently, Google has launched an update in Google Chrome’s Incognito mode that is automatically turned on once incognito mode has been launched. This update allows you to protect yourself from potentially harmful web pages that contain these large “Download” buttons or ads that contain certain types of malware.
When Google Chrome detects a threat, it will immediately warn you that you are entering a dangerous site. When you see a warning that says “Deceptive Site Ahead”, it means you are about to access a site that might contain deceitful content and Google Chrome is trying to block it for you. The people behind the website would usually trick unsuspecting visitors into installing software that contains viruses or even urge them to fill up forms that allow the website to steal important information. So the next time that you are browsing the Internet, use the Incognito Mode of Google Chrome (Keyboard command: CTRL+Shift+N or CMD+Shift+N for Mac). It will also save you from sharing cookies with ad companies (tracking data).
As long as there are people who use the internet, the war against malware and spyware will never end. The existence of people with malicious intent is a fact in all walks of life. However, if you know how to protect yourself, you have just won an important battle. Do your homework and protect your computer from viruses, you are going to save yourself a lot of time, money and frustration.