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Microsoft cracks the whip on misleading advertisements
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Microsoft cracks the whip on misleading advertisements

by AshwinMay 1, 2015

Microsoft has announced that it is going to crackdown on misleading ads, in a bid to help its users to stay away from malwares.

Microsoft says-Examples-of-misleading-advertising
The Redmond company is addressing the harmful effects of malicious ads with the help of the Microsoft Malware Protection Center.

It has revealed that the company is updating its evaluation criteria, which determines if a program is detected as a malicious app, and that it is working to update this policy by collecting user feedback, observing industry trends and changes in technology.

How ads are misused:

The majority of ads served on legit webpages are pretty harmless. All they do is take the user from the webpage they are on, to a website selling the advertised product. In some cases ads take the user to a software vendor’s website, from where the user can opt to download the software.

However the internet is not all clean and innocent. It is a malware-ridden place, and has infected content disguised as ads. Clicking on such ads could initiate the download of a PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program), adwares, malwares or keyloggers which could result in a loss for the end user, either data wise or even monetarily.

The rise of such malicious ads has not gone unnoticed, and here is what Microsoft says about it:

We’ve found that these types of advertisements often try to convince a user to do something, the consequences of which they may not fully understand, such as visiting an infected website or downloading a program that can negatively impact their browsing experience.

Change in the Objection criteria:

According to Microsoft’s new policy about displaying ads, an advertisement should not mislead a user or initiate the  download of a file. Ads should not confuse the user, and must be distinguishable from the content of a webpage. Ads must not contain any malicious code or exploits.

Any ad found to be in violation of the above mentioned evaluation criteria, will trigger Microsoft’s security system to report it as a malicious ad.

The first screenshot in this article (pictured above) shows some examples of misleading advertising:

One Last Bow:

Microsoft Internet Explorer will have one last laugh before it dies. It will be updated to detect whether an ad displayed on a website is malicious. IE will only do this when the SmartScreen filter is enabled. It will trigger a warning similar to the one seen below, when malicious content is detected.

Internet-Explorer-SmartScreen-Filter

Microsoft’s new browser for Windows 10, Edge, will also notify users when websites with a malicious ad is detected.

Edge-SmartScreen-Filter

Microsoft will enforce its updated evaluation criteria from June 1, 2015.

Of course the simple thing to do would be to install an Ad-blocker to just disable such malicious ads. We also recommend readers to use a reputed antivirus software and firewall, and to download files only from recognized and legitimate websites and software vendors.

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