There’s a lot of hype around artificial intelligence (AI) these days. And cybercriminals are taking advantage of people’s interest in AI to spread harmful malware through online ads.
The criminals run bogus ads for AI tools and other software on social media sites and on search engines. These savvy cybercriminals can evade detection by systems designed to ferret out malicious advertising. They can also evade anti-virus software.
If you click on a malicious ad, you end up on a cloned site that downloads malware onto your device. But some ads take you to the real software and download the malware through a “backdoor,” which makes it hard to know you got hacked. Then, the criminals could steal your information and sell it to other hackers on the dark web, or get access to your online accounts and scam others.
So, how do you avoid clicking on malicious ads that install malware?
Don't click on ads to download software. If you see an ad for software that piques your interest, don’t click on it. Instead, go to the website by typing in the address.
If you don’t know the website address, search for it. But remember that scammers also place ads on search engines. They’ll appear at the top of your search results page and might have a label that says “Ad” or “Sponsored”. Scroll past those to get to your search results.
Malicious ads might evade anti-virus software, but it’s still a good idea to make sure your computer’s security software, operating system, and Internet browser, and your phone, are up to date. And turn on automatic updates to keep up with the latest protections.