Check your browser for ‘lurgies’

Ensure you have the software installed to prevent your computer falling prey to viruses
Ensure you have the software installed to prevent your computer falling prey to viruses

First thing things first, don’t trust your anti-virus program – a very odd thing to say I know, but hear me out.

You can spend anywhere up to £60 a year on them and they give you a warm fuzzy feeling that you are safe. But beware!

Anti-virus software makes you as safe as it can and for the most part does a really good job at what it is supposed to do – which is to kill viruses and improve your firewall. It does, however, have two major flaws: it is only as good as its last update and it provides you with a false sense of security.

The internet is full of fraudsters and hackers wishing to access your bank account and what we’ve found most of the time is that we’re the ones letting them in with weak passwords and the belief that we are safe in doing crazy things like installing free programs from unknown sites that get around our firewalls.

Secondly, if you’re seeing extra or unusual ads on your computer, you may have an unwanted ad injector. Ad injectors are programs that insert extra ads or replace existing ads on web pages. Unfortunately, many of these are not detected by traditional anti-viruses.

Browser add-ons (also called browser extensions) are simple little programs that add functionality to your web browser. Some, like Adblock Plus, are really good – however, there are many rogue add-ons that bombard people with ads, the most malicious of which may steal login names and other valuable data.

Ad injectors may be acquired through malware, deceptive advertising, browser add-ons or simply through a careless attitude towards online risks. It is essentially “unwanted software” and in some cases can be considered as malware. Not only are ad injectors intrusive, but people are often annoyed because they have been tricked into installing them in the first place. Only last week Google announced that after analysing over 100 million visits to their sites, they had discovered more than 200 fraudulent add-ons for its Chrome browser.

It concluded that as many as 1-in-20 people who visit their websites have at least one malicious add-on and, of those users, a third have four or more. Google’s research found that malicious extensions were available for every major browser.

So our advice this week is simple: check your browser to see if you have any lurgies hanging about that could inject those unwanted and possibly dangerous adverts.