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Another Reason to Install an Ad Blocker: Protect Yourself from Malicious Ads, Says the FBI

December 29, 2022

On December, 21, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning about online criminals using brand impersonation in adverts that show up in search engine results. To safeguard themselves against such dangers, the agency has suggested that customers should utilize ad blockers.

According to an alert from the FBI, the attackers establish domains that are similar to those of legitimate companies or services and then use those names to buy ads from services that manage search engine advertisements.

Read more about this topic on the FBI website

How Cyberattacks Happen

When a user searches for a company or service, these deceptive adverts appear at the top of the page, and the user can easily mistake them for a real search result.

The FBI notes that the links in these advertisements direct viewers to web pages that are exact replicas of the legitimate corporate websites of businesses.

In the event that a user searches for an application, they are directed to one of these false websites that utilize the actual name of the program they are looking for and contains a link to download malware.

The FBI stated that, “These advertisements have also been used to impersonate websites involved in finances, particularly cryptocurrency exchange platforms”.

The malicious websites pose as reputable exchange platforms and request users to provide their login and payment details, which the cybercriminals then use to steal the victim's money.

The FBI added, “While search engine advertisements are not malicious in nature, it is important to practice caution when accessing a web page through an advertised link”.


What FBI Recommends

Businesses are urged to employ domain protection services to educate users on faked domains and how to obtain legitimate downloads for the company's software, as well as to be alerted to domain spoofing.

Users are asked to use ad blockers while conducting internet searches, to check URLs to make sure they reach legitimate websites, and to type a company's URL into the browser rather than searching for that company.

Even the NSA and CIA are apparently employing ad blockers, despite the fact that they might have a negative effect on the earnings of online businesses and advertisers.

You can also report the fraud to your local FBI field office if you think you've fallen victim to fraud or malware based on brand impersonation via search engine adverts. 

The FBI also recommends victims to file complaints with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at about fraudulent or suspicious activity.

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