We’re entering the holiday season, the peak time of online fraud trading – but thankfully the FBI has stepped in, recommending the use of ad blockers to stay safe.
In a recent public announcement, the agency warned that fake ads can be placed at the top of search results, indistinguishable from the results themselves, and can be very persuasive when impersonating legitimate brands.
The FBI mentioned that the ads may pretend to be from cryptocurrency exchanges, and clicking them could install malware on your system, steal sensitive data, and ultimately your money.
Other agency recommendations include checking the URL before clicking on a link to ensure it’s legitimate, paying attention to misspellings, and typing the web address directly into the browser of the business you’re looking for instead of searching for it.
In its business advice, the FBI recommended the use of domain protection services to notify the registration of similar domain names and inform customers of any scam sites.
Ad blockers do what they say — they prevent ads from appearing in your browser. The main benefit is to stop intrusive and long-loading ads, such as videos from interrupting and slowing you down.
However, they also prevent these ads from tracking you by preventing big data collectors such as Google and Facebook from discovering your online browsing habits, both on desktop and mobile devices.
For this reason, the agency’s announcement is unlikely to please the big tech companies that seem to be walking a tightrope between attempts to invalidate their use without upsetting the large user base of such extensions.
Recently, the popular uBlock Origin ad blocker complained about upcoming API changes in Chrome that appear to be set to prevent this and other ad blocking extensions from working on Chromium browsers. Browsers built on chrome include Microsoft Edge and Opera.
Google also confirmed in the summer that ad-blocking VPN apps for Android devices will no longer be available on the Play Store.