Ubiquity of Windows 10 makes it attractive target for bad actors
The majority of malicious ad campaigns attack systems running Microsoft’s Windows operating system, according to cybersecurity company Devcon.
The Lowdown: The Franklin, Tennessee-based company found that almost 61% of malvertising efforts observed between July 11 and Nov. 22 targeted the Windows OS, with Google’s ChromeOS at 22.5%, Apple’s iPadOS running on iPad tablets at 0.8%, and Linux at 0.3%.
The Details: Other OSes in the mix were MacOS (at 10.5%), iOS for iPhones (3.2%), and Android (2.1%). A key factor in the high number of bad ads targeting Windows is the broad use of the operating system – particularly Windows 10, which has overtaken Windows 7 as the most widely used OS in the world – according to Devcon. Microsoft says that Windows 10 is running on more than 900 million systems worldwide. Cybercriminals are going to focus on what gives them the widest impact, and in the world of operating systems, that would be Windows.
The bulk of the malvertising campaigns were designed to redirect victims to malicious websites or to lure the users into downloading malware onto their systems. Steps users can take to protect themselves include:
> Using antivirus technologies, and ensuring they’re updated. Such products protect not only against bad ads but also against other threats, including ransomware.
> Not clicking on ads that are too good to be true. They’re clickbait.
> Clearing the cache: Cookies, saved searches, web history, and other information saved in the browser can reveal private and sensitive information to bad actors.
> Using browsers with good security, such as Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Microsoft Edge.
> Using a password manager product rather than opting for the “save password” feature in browsers.
> Reporting bad ads that are found on a website to the site holder.
The Buzz: “There are several factors at play here,” Devcon officials wrote in a blog post. “The ubiquity of Windows is a significant reason. … And the popularity of the operating system is a powerful motivator for a bad actor. Why write an exploit to only target a few users when you can write one than can affect countless numbers of users?”