Tuesday, February 14, 2017

All About Adware and the Dangers it Poses to Your Business

All About Adware and the Dangers it Poses to Your Business
We all know what adware is. But at Cadamier Security Network in Denver, we believe you should know all about adware and the dangers it poses to your business. Many don’t realize that his software that displays advertising online has become very aggressive. Now, adware companies add more applications and often install whatever they want onto your system.

If you’re like many of our customers, you may just tolerate it instead of fighting it. Here’s the problem. Adware can install additional software without a user’s knowledge or consent and often is a risk for causing information leakage.

So, what type of information is leaked and how is privacy is being compromised? The main adware categories are ad-injectors, browser hijackers, and utilities that can change your system settings and lead to insecure configurations.

Sometimes it’s in-browser ad-injection, pop-ups, word highlights, or offering fake services with the goal of redirecting users traffic to their own websites for profit. They are distributed through software bundles. What happens is the user installs what they think is a legitimate application, but other applications are installed as well. Often the user can’t refuse the installation.

Let’s break these down a bit further.

Browser Hijackers
This kind of adware makes more modifications to the system than traditional ad-injectors, highlighting words, changing the default search engine, showing pop-ups outside the browser.

Another kind of adware, utilities applications are shown as system optimizers and software removal tools. They trick you by showing fake problems on the system, such as an infection or poor system performance, in order to get you to subscribe to their service. But the problems simply do not exist.

This type of adware modifies the content of the browser in order to display advertising that wouldn’t be there if you visited the website. The majority of ad-injectors are browser-based infections in the form of malicious browser extensions.

What happens is that once an ad-injector is installed on your system it will start injecting code in the visited websites which will load and display the desired advertising.

They will try to inject advertising into all the pages opened in your browser and the malicious browser extensions will monitor every page you visit. The applications will put many pieces of advertising on every page you visit. Critical information may be leaked about the user, such as visited news sites, intranet sites of an organization, username, activities, personal preferences, location, political ideology, and even more.

Leaked information can create many problems. There are three main problems associated with this information leakage that makes it even more critical:

Historical Visibility 
If you don’t stop adware, their servers are able to store your leaked browsing information for a long time. This can give them an accurate profile of your online behavior and activities.

No Encryption 
Your leaked information is sent through plain HTTP to the ad-injector servers. This not only exposes your information to them but to anyone that is watching your traffic.

Multiple ad-injection servers are storing your information in multiple malicious locations and that increases the opportunity for misuse by malicious actors.

The objections to ad-injector adware aren’t just about the advertising, although that’s annoying enough. More importantly, ad-injectors can leak information about the online behavior of your business activities and your company's personal preferences. The concern is these third parties receiving this information can misuse it and put your business’ security in danger.

If you use an ad-blocker or a script blocker it might help prevent the advertising to load and will protect users from the risks of the injected advertising. But here’s the problem – if you don’t see the advertising, you won’t know the infection is even there. You need to remove it, not hide it.

We believe you should know all about adware and the dangers it poses to your business. At Cadamier Network Security Corporation in Denver, we’ve been in business since 2001 and we are committed to network security protection, detection, and enforcement. If you have or suspect adware issues in any or all of your company’s computers or network, give us a call and let us help you protect your business. 

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