The FBI now recommends using an ad blocker when searching the web

February 24, 2023 in News by RBN Staff


Source: Evening Standard

By Saqib Shah

The law enforcement agency warns that scam ads designed to steal your banking details are appearing atop search results

<p>Cybercriminals are behind ads that are made to look like messages from real brands and businesses, the US security agency the FBI (an agent of which is pictured) says </p>



The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US is advising people to use ad blockers as part of a warning about the threat of scams online.

In a public service announcement, the security agency’s internet complaints department says ad-blocking extensions can help to protect users against fraudulent online adverts that appear in search results. Cybercriminals are behind such ads that are made to look like messages from real brands and businesses, it says.

The dupes, which can sometimes appear at the top of a search results page, contain links to fake websites or malicious software downloads that try to pinch your login details or financial information.

By endorsing ad blockers, which scrub or hide content identified as ads from websites, the FBI is effectively giving the thumbs-up to a divisive tool that many internet publishers (including news sites) actively discourage visitors from using.

As such, its warning illustrates just how perilous the internet advertising environment has become. Online ad sellers such as Google and Microsoft are locked in a ceaseless duel with cybercriminals, who try to create thousands of accounts to bypass their security systems when purchasing ads.

Despite constantly scouring their services for scams using ad verification and certification policies, it seems that some fakes are still seeping through their nets.

In July, researchers from Malwarebytes found that bad actors were creating fake search ads that mimicked websites including YouTube, Amazon and Facebook. Earlier in the year, Google removed ads that impersonated the customer support accounts of internet providers including BT and Sky.

More broadly, there have been many scams in the UK since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. These include phishing messages sent via email and SMS; cryptocurrency scams that falsely claim to be endorsed by celebrities; fraudulent calls from overseas; and fake offers around major shopping events such as Black Friday.