Beware: Attackers Place Malicious Ads at the Top of Search Engine Results

by | Apr/1/2022

OpenOffice is a free program that allows you to create documents and spreadsheets. Right now, attackers are buying ads so that, if you search for OpenOffice and are a lucky searcher, an ad appears at the top of your search. Clicking on the ad could take you to a site to download a malicious program rather than OpenOffice.

To help protect yourself, when you search, click on the organic search results rather than the ads. That behavior can be safer if the advertisers are bad actors trying to lure you to a malicious site or download.

Malicious advertising is not limited to search engines. Advertisements on websites can be just as dangerous. These attacks are called malvertising and trick millions of users each year.

Please forward this to your friends so they know online advertisements, even search engine results, might take them to dangerous sites that attack their computers. The sites could offer downloads that, while the programs might seem legitimate, are tainted executable files infested with malware to attack their computer, encrypt files, steal their information including keystrokes and passwords, and provide remote access to unauthorized bad actors.

Note: We are not endorsing or advising you to use or not use OpenOffice. We use their name as an example because this incident is a current event. This does not indicate that OpenOffice is hacked; if anything, it suggests that the program is attractive enough that users eagerly seek it. Attackers use many famous brands and products. Being selected as a keyword can be flattering. Malvertising is unrelated to companies having security weaknesses.