NYTIMES: You Don’t Want the Malware Prize
Posted on April 23rd, 2018
Devious code is sending people to fraudulent quiz and contest pages, so ignore that "lucky winner" notice and run a security scan.
Pop-ups claiming to offer prizes to Amazon customers are part of a surge in malicious advertising. Credit The New York Times
April 23, 2018
Q. I keep getting these "Congratulations!" messages about winning prizes from Amazon.com, even when I’m not using the site. Why is this?
A. Those persistent pop-up messages are not from Amazon, but are part of a wave of malicious display advertisements — also known as "malvertising" — invading desktop, Android and iPhone browsers.The intrusive ads can also appear when browsing links that are posted on Facebook.
Malvertising has been a problem for years, but lately has become more pervasive on mobile devices. Symantec, a security company, noted this year that the "congratulations" malware has been making a strong push onto Android devices with a Trojan horse called Android.Fakeyouwon.
In January, the cybersecurity company Confiant also outlined how the recent malware was spread across the web by fraudulent advertising agencies, which placed tainted ads on legitimate sites. If you select the pop-up’s O.K. button or try to dismiss the box, the browser is typically redirected to a page that promises prizes for participation in a quiz.
Interacting with the quiz may infect your system with malware or give the scammers access to your Facebook friends list. If you get a "congratulations" box on your screen with no way out, forcibly quit the browser to escape.
If scam messages are regularly popping up on your screen, your computer or device may be infected. To disinfect your system, run an anti-malware utility like Malwarebytes AdwCleaner for Windows; Malwarebytes for the Mac scans for adware, too. Microsoft has a Malicious Software Tool for Windows. Apple’s support site has guides for blocking pop-ups in the Safari browser and clearing the history and website data from an iOS device.
The Facebook Help Center has instructions for dealing with malicious software. Google recently added new security features to its Chrome browser for desktop systems and Android to help remove pop-ups and malware, and Mozilla’s site has a malware-troubleshooting guide for Firefox.