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How to protect my website against Unwanted Programs

By Alice

April 16, 2024

The internet has two strongly contrasting sides. While it offers a lot of information, services, and entertainment, there can also be drawbacks that compromise the end user’s digital security. In this article, we will answer the question we will answer the question "How to protect my website against Unwanted Programs" and explore how to identify Malvertising in the form of Unwanted Programs, how they can tarnish an Ad Network or Publisher's reputation, and how you can protect your brand and your end users from this and other Malvertising attempts with AdSecures real-time threat detection technology. Read on to learn more about this threat and how to eradicate it!

Why is Unwanted Program detection important?

In AdSecure's latest edition of the Violations Report, we detected a +3,362.4% increase in Unwanted Program downloads from 2022 to 2023! Making it one of the fastest-growing Ad security threats of 2023. Unwanted Programs trick the end user into installing software with ads that include malicious programs posing as software. It can be added in browser add-ons and bundles that may contain legitimate software installs. They then monitor the end user’s online activity to sell this data to Malvertisers. They can use the data to insert more intrusive ads into the web pages viewed by said end user, or they may modify their browser settings impairing device functionality and reducing the browsing experience. This detection can seriously tarnish the reputation of Ad Networks or Publisher websites alike and it falls under the violation category of ‘User Security’: the Malvertiser aims to reach the end user’s device, impairing their online security and in some cases, ending with financial losses.

End users expect a safe and seamless online experience, free from unwanted interruptions or security threats like Unwanted Programs. This is why now more than ever it is important to invest in ad security software that helps you as an Ad Network of Publishers detect and remove such threats, in order to protect your brand reputation and the end user's data and maintain the integrity of their devices and assets. So, let's look at some of the ways Unwanted Programs can impair end user safety:

How to identify Malvertising in the form of Unwanted Programs

Unwanted Programs can take many forms including Adware, Browser Hijackers, Spyware, and other types of malicious software that can compromise the end user's privacy and security. These programs are typically disguised as legitimate downloads, tempting unsuspecting users to download and install them. This can be similar to Malicious APK Files.

So let’s look at how to identify Malvertising in the form of Unwanted Programs and how they can enter your system undetected, access your personal information, and the symptoms your device may experience:

1. Adware: This displays unwanted ads on your end user’s computer, usually in the form of pop-ups or Banners. It can slow down their system, consume bandwidth, and track online activities for invasive ad targeting.

2. Browser hijackers: These hackers change your end user’s browser settings without consent, redirecting them to malicious websites or displaying unwanted ads. They also track their browsing habits and compromise online privacy.

3. Spyware: Spyware monitors your end user’s activities, collects sensitive information like passwords and credit card details, and can send this data to third parties. It can lead to identity theft, financial loss, and other privacy breaches.

4. Keyloggers: Similar to Spyware, this infects the device by recording your end user’s keystrokes by tracking movements on the keyboard and capturing sensitive information like login credentials and all other activities they may complete online throughout the day.

5. Drive-by Downloads: If an end user visits a compromised website or clicks on malicious ads ‘drive-by downloads’ can be triggered, this is where unwanted programs are automatically downloaded and installed. End users can identify these Drive-by Downloads if there are applications on their devices that they did not download. 

6. Worms: You may think your website is safe but hackers can use Unwanted Programs to exploit weaknesses in an Ad Network’s security or operating systems through worms enabling them to control and install more unwanted programs to affect the end user without your knowledge.

7. Fileless Malware: Uses legitimate system tools to carry out malicious activities. Fileless Malware is a significant threat to cybersecurity as it can bypass standard security measures and cause damage without leaving a trace on the system's disk.

8. Botnets: Infiltrate the device and turn infected devices into an Ad Network of bots that can be used for malicious activities like DDoS attacks. This is particularly dangerous for Ad Networks and Publishers as it makes resources unavailable to their intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting the services of the host.

9. Rootkits: Malware that provides unauthorized access to an end user's device and hides its presence from standard security software. It allows the hacker to take control of a device without the owner's knowledge.

Although this is how to identify Malvertising in the form of Unwanted Programs, often you will not know that your website or Ad Network has been infiltrated. You would need to have ad security measures in place like AdSecure’s real-time threat detection technology and pre and post-launch scanning software to detect these Malvertising violations. Your end user will not be aware either until their device begins slowing down, crashing, or in extreme cases there are changes in their financials. This is why it is so important to prevent Unwanted Programs or other detections rather than rectifying the issue afterward. Let’s see how end users can protect themselves from Unwanted Programs. 

How can end users protect themselves from Unwanted Programs 

So, now that you know the different ways Unwanted Programs can infiltrate your domain and how to identify Malvertising in the form of Unwanted Programs, let’s look at how end users can protect themselves from falling victim to Unwanted Programs. Here are some essential steps:

#1 Keep your software updated: Keep your operating system, antivirus, and other software updated to patch vulnerabilities cybercriminals could exploit.

#2 Exercise caution online: Be wary of suspicious emails, links, and attachments, as they may contain Unwanted Programs or other malware. Avoid clicking on unknown links or downloading files from untrusted sources. If you encounter a drive-by download use your ad security software to scan and remove the threat.

#3 Enforce strong password policies: Having a strong password is one of the easiest ways to ensure further safety because it prevents unauthorized access to your system.

#4 Implement network security: Implementing network security measures such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems to block malicious traffic will help you stay on top of any form of malvertising.

How Unwanted Programs affect Ad Networks and Publishers?

Unwanted programs pose a significant threat to both Publishers and Ad Networks because the intrusive ads can lead end users to associate the website with low-quality and invasive content, resulting in a loss of trust. Ad Networks may face Advertisers pulling out of partnerships due to these issues. Unfortunately, these programs can also violate user privacy by collecting sensitive information or displaying malicious content, potentially leading to Google blocking or penalizing both the Publisher and the Ad Network. This may also impact the website authority and Google ranking, reducing the company's reach. 

How to protect my website against Unwanted Programs?

So, let's answer the question "How to protect my website against Unwanted Programs?". The best way is by implementing security practices and conducting regular scans that can help protect your brand and end users from Unwanted Programs. Using tools like AdSecure for real-time threat detection technology, security audits, and monitoring can detect and mitigate any infiltrated Unwanted Programs. You can protect your end users from Unwanted Programs with AdSecure's Malvertising Prevention Solutions. It offers advanced scanning capabilities, and robust security features to identify and eliminate potential risks, ensuring a secure online experience. This not only protects the integrity of your brands but also ensures a safer and more secure online experience for end users while enhancing cybersecurity within your organization.

Conclusion: Protect your ad supply chain and end users from Unwanted Programs with AdSecure

Cybercriminals persistently refine their tactics to mislead end users and breach their online defenses. When considering how to identify Malvertising in the form of Unwanted programs, it is important to maintain a watchful eye, adopt comprehensive online ad security practices, and use an ad security service like AdSecure to remain a high-quality source that protects your Advertisers and end users from cybercriminals. Want to protect your website against Unwanted Programs? Sign up and protect your end users from Unwanted Programs with AdSecure today!

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