Malware, Adware and Ransomware – How the different “wares” affect you (Part II.)


Ad fraud isn’t the only thing that can do damage to your brand. If your website is attacked by adware, malware or ransomware you may be out of commission and unable to accommodate visitors. In some instances, you may unintentionally pass a virus onto your customers, and infected computers often become a target of ad fraudsters.

Any of the “wares” can be disruptive enough to result in costly damage and harm your brand. Knowing the difference between each of these terms can help you identify possible vulnerabilities and with proper security measurements you may address the protection of your business and your customers. In this blog series we are going to introduce the different “wares” and the actions you can take to protect yourself from them. This article is about adware and ransomware, the previous blog post was tackling malware.

What Is Adware?

This type of software uses some type of advertising delivery system to place ads on your computer. Adware may also redirect search requests to advertising sites to collect a user’s personal data. Sometimes a user unintentionally agrees to install a software like this when willingly downloading another program. It usually disappears if the software that attached it is uninstalled.

cybercrime scene

What Is the Connection with Advertising Fraud?

Adware can be a tool of advertising fraud in the sense that some type of deception is involved with the placement of ads. Security vendors draw a line between the two based on the particular actions taken. For instance, advertising software may be accidentally installed when a user doesn’t un-check a box on the pop-ups that come up while installing a program and the software is installed.

What fraudulent advertising does is making advertisers think they are getting more impressions than they are really getting for their ads. The results they are getting are often greatly exaggerated so the fraudster can make more profit. In some instances, it’s a more deceptive tactic than what’s done with advertising software. Victims of ad-related software are often the users of the infected computers while fraudulent ad victims tend to be advertisers and sometimes publishers.

bad bot

Advertising fraud can also involve:

  • SEO fraud: Sites where ads are placed are made to appear more popular than they really are.
  • Click fraud: Trojan software or botnets send systems to other sites, resulting in impressions with low click values (potential customers are more likely to be annoyed).
  • Domain spoofing: Ads appear on a different site other than what the advertiser expected.

Trojan software is usually the form of malicious software that’s used to carry out fraudulent advertising tactics by remotely controlling systems and making it appear as if ads are being seen when they may be hidden behind other ads or buried on sites with a lot of ads (stacking or stuffing), or set up so human visitors don’t see the ads. Malware plays a role in advertising fraud when it’s used by fraudsters to direct botnets (remote-controlled computers) to visit sites and generate misleading clicks.


What Is Ransomware?

Increasingly popular among online criminals looking to profit from their use of malicious software, ransomware prevents a computer from accessing files until you pay the requested fee, or ransom. The software encrypts files and prevents them from being opened. The cyber-criminal will then place a message on your screen providing details of how much money is being demanded to unlock your computer.


How Can You Protect Your Business?

Taking appropriate anti-malware precautions can help protect your business from malicious software and fraudulent advertising. Implementing specific standards to detect and deal with malicious software can provide protection for you and your staff as well as any customers and vendors who may come into contact with your webpages or download anything from you. Consider taking the following steps:

  • Picking someone in your business to be in an anti-malware contact
  • Documenting all points of contact with partner companies to avoid unintentionally transferring infections
  • Assigning malicious software detection duties and making it clear what to look for
  • Screening a certain portion of advertising inventory to identify signs of issues requiring attention
  • Establishing a policy for dealing with any form of malicious software when it’s detected
  • Developing a process for analyzing malicious software incidents so that vulnerabilities can be identified to prevent, or minimize the risk of, future attacks

At, we take any attempt at ad fraud or any other issues that may seriously harm your brand. Our goal is to save you time and needless hassle and frustration by identifying unsafe sources of never-converting digital traffic and to provide the assistance you need to create a good user experience. We offer a wide range of end-to-end solutions to cover brand safety, anti-fraud protection, and visibility with CPM and CPC campaigns and affiliate networks. Protect your budget and contact us today to ask for an offer and learn more about services.

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