FBI Warns of Malicious Search Engine Ads

April 11, 2023

Recently, the FBI issued a public service announcement and warns of malicious search engine Ads of cyber criminals that appear in search engine results. These criminals pose as legitimate brands and direct users to phishing sites that attempt to convince them to download malware or provide login credentials and financial information.

They have also been employed to spoof websites involved in finances, particularly cryptocurrency exchange platforms. These malicious sites solicit users to provide their account credentials and then take advantage of them by siphoning off funds from them.

Do not click on ads

The FBI has warned of an increasing danger for consumers posed by malicious search engine ads. These advertisements often redirect users to fraudulent websites which steal personal information and other sensitive data, as well as being used to spread malware.

Cybercriminals often purchase domains that appear similar to legitimate businesses or services and then create websites for the impersonated organization. These ads appear at the top of search engine results with little differentiation between them and real results.

These ads can often be missed unless people pay close attention. Therefore, it’s essential that internet users take time to examine these types of advertisements before clicking on them.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, using an ad blocker is the best way to protect yourself from malicious search engine ads. With the correct ad blocker, you can block these advertisements and guarantee that you do not click on them.

The FBI warned that criminals are using fake ads to direct users to sites where they can download software posing as legitimate. Some of these advertisements even appear to pose as links to cryptocurrency exchange platforms, enabling hackers to siphon off funds from unaware victims.

Despite the FBI’s warning, many internet users continue to click on these advertisements due to their convenience and accessibility.

However, the FBI stresses the importance of not clicking any advertisements that appear at the top of search engine’s results page. They assure us these ads are harmless and it would be wise not to ignore them.

Additionally, it’s wise to be wary of the URLs of websites you visit. This is especially important for sites you might be considering visiting in order to make sure they are legitimate and not fakes.

Some websites might be typosquatting or contain viruses. These are some of the most frequent issues users encounter when trying to protect their devices from malware.

Malicious search engine ads have been around for some time. The latest scam is called “malvertising,” which uses Google Search to distribute malicious software.

Spamhaus Technology reports an uptick in malvertising campaigns on Google Search over the last few weeks. These advertisements often look like legitimate products like Adobe Reader or GIMP and direct users to fake download sites that offer free software downloads.

They then attempt to manipulate users into downloading malware on their machine, which can lead to various issues including ransomware.

It can also lead to other issues, such as data theft and identity fraud. Attackers may gain access to a victim’s bank account or credit card numbers.

The FBI has cautioned internet users not to click any advertisements that appear at the top of their search results without verifying their URL first. Doing this can be done by comparing a website with one you actually intend on visiting.

Do not click on links

When searching for information online, there are a few things you should watch out for. Never click on links with suspicious or malicious content as this could lead to your computer getting infected with malware or a virus and compromise personal data. It is also wise not to click on any links with suspicious content at all.

Recently, the FBI issued a warning about malicious search engine ads that can enable hackers to track and profile users. With this data, hackers could target specific people with spear phishing campaigns designed to steal their personal details.

One common way to do this is by redirecting you from a legitimate website to one that is fraudulent. This can be accomplished through hijacking popular search engines or even your browser itself. If you notice changes in your default search engine or notice lots of pop-up advertisements on your screen, these could be signs that your browser has been compromised.

Another popular way to deceive users is through promoted search engine results. These links appear on the first few pages of a search result and usually serve to generate revenue; however, according to the FBI these can also be exploited by malicious actors for financial gain.

Be wary of promoted search engine results for popular events or stories that may include malicious code or links leading to fraudulent sites. Be sure to inspect the page thoroughly before clicking any links or clicking a banner ad.

Commonly, this type of link appears when Google has been compromised by malicious hackers looking to promote their own content. For instance, hackers have been able to deceive Google into displaying custom malware web pages at the top of popular events or stories searches.

It is essential to double-check your links before sending them on social media or emails. Doing this allows you to hover your mouse over the link and view where it takes you, helping avoid accidentally visiting a malicious website that gives away personal information.

When creating links, there are a few other issues to take into account. Some people suggest it’s essential to use the word “click” on your links because this helps establish context; however, I personally believe this can detract from the user experience and create an unsatisfactory experience for them.

For instance, when searching for a place to study, use phrases like “click here to learn more about our degree programs” which will ensure users that they’ve clicked on the correct place.

Another important consideration is that using the word “click” in links can detract from your interface’s experience for visually impaired users. Screen readers read all text on a web page aloud, so if you only include “click” as part of an instruction, they must reread the entire page for optimal readability.

Ammar Fakhruddin


Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.

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