“Don’t open emails if you don’t know who they came from…”
“Don’t download songs / movies / software from illegal sources…”
“Don’t click on ads that claim your computer is broken…”

“…because you’ll get a virus.”

Most of us have heard these kinds of warnings before, and, for the most part, we are pretty good about keeping our computers safe from threats. But, just as our computers have gotten more complex and more powerful, so too have the viruses, malware, and hackers who want nothing more to break into them. These days, protecting your computer and important files from hackers isn’t as simple as deleting that suspicious email or staying away from obviously rotten websites. A great example of this came across our news feeds this morning:

A group of hackers that develops and updates a powerful hacking tool known as Angler have managed to sneak dangerous web ads onto perfectly legitimate, highly visited websites like answers.com They did this by buying the domain names of recently closed media and advertising firms and using those names to trick online ad networks into accepting their dangerous ads. When a normal internet user viewed one of these ads, their web browser would be hijacked into running nasty malware designed to allow other hackers to install even nastier viruses!

What did these nefarious ads look like? Were they something that could be avoided if you saw them in time? Not really. At least some of these dangerous ads used perfectly unoffensive images, like the one of the socket wrench sitting at the top of this post!

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, either. Major companies like Forbes, DailyMotion, Microsoft’s MSN.com, and even Reader’s Digest have all inadvertently allowed dangerous ads to run on their websites within the last couple of years. All of them pointed to the advertising networks they contract with to show you online ads, but ultimately, it’s innocent users that will continue to get hurt until companies start caring about every piece of content that gets displayed on their websites.

But, if dangerous web ads can appear on any site, what can you to protect yourself? Your first line of defense is still going to be a good set of anti-virus / anti-malware software. In fact, the most recent round of dangerous ads purposely avoided computers that had good virus protection already installed. Your next step might be to download and install an ad blocker for your web browser.

At ETV Software, we can help you pick an anti-virus package to help keep you safe, can check to make sure your Operating System and applications have the latest security updates, and can help you find and remove any viruses or malware that may already be lurking on your system. You can make sure your computer is protected by giving us a call today or by stopping by our Tyler Texas location at 1331 South Beckham Ave.