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April 7, 2010

Protect Yourself from Malicious Advertisements with Internet Explorer 8

Users are continuously getting smarter and more educated about the things criminals are doing on the web. Because of this, the criminals have to change their tactics. One of the ways they are doing this is by buying ads on prominent web sites, and finding ways to serve up malicious content through those ads. Some of these websites might be some of your favorite websites you visit regularly and you might be thinking “hey, I only visit good websites” – unfortunately even “good” websites (websites not intending to harm the reader in any way) can be affected.

Many websites make the money it takes to operate through displaying ads from an ad network. Through that ad network, a website can unknowingly display a malicious ad on their website which puts their readers at risk. CNET recently posted an article about ad networks from Google, Fox, and Yahoo serving out malicious advertisements. This is not something that affects just one ad network, it’s an industry issue.

IE8 SmartScreen blocking page indicating that the requested URL is unsafe

TechCrunch (a favorite website of mine) is a recent example of a website unknowingly delivering malicious advertisements from 3rd parties to their readers. A few pages on TechCrunch were blocked by Internet Explorer 8’s SmartScreen Filter. The SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer 8 was blocking several posts from TechCrunch due to malicious content being included in ads that TechCrunch’s ad network was serving to the readers of TechCrunch.

We were able to see the SmartScreen Filter in action keeping the TechCrunch readers using Internet Explorer 8 safe from the malicious ads.

Since launch, Internet Explorer 8 has blocked over 560 million malware sites. This averages out to be about 3 million blocks per day. Because of this ongoing thread with malicious advertisements, it is important to use a browser that keeps you safe and protected.