Beware: paid ads in search results may contain malware

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Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

Clicking on paid ads in your search results could cost you a lot. You could fall victim to MosaicLoader malware when trying to download software.

When infected, your machine becomes part of a network that the attackers can use to further infect your machine. Due to its capabilities, the impact can be staggering. Threat actors can steal sensitive information like passwords and usernames, gain remote access to your computer, microphone or webcams or install keyloggers to track everything you type. As a result you could lose your accounts, fall victim to identity theft or blackmail.

How to protect yourself

The malware poses as a cracked version of legitimate software, using paid ads to show up in the top of your search results. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid searching for and downloading cracked software (which is against the law anyway). Always keep your antimalware and other security features running and up to date.

The malware was identified by researchers at Bitdefender. You are likely protected if you are running the latest version of Bitdefender but you should always only download software from a legitimate, trusted source.

If you would like to find out more about Bitdefender visit the security section on our website.

What is “MosaicLoader”

MosaicLoader is a piece of malware that targets Windows and acts as a downloader and delivery method for a variety of payloads. The malware masks itself as cracked software mimicking legitimate executable files of the software individuals try to download. Once it is on your computer it attempts to download various threats ranging from simple cookie stealers to leaving a fully fledged backdoor into your machine.