Malvertising isn’t new to the online world. Since the dawn of the computer, there have been agents acting to undermine its integrity and attempt to take advantage of others. The most obvious targets for these malicious ads are those who are newer to technology and less savvy at recognising what might actually be a scam. But how can these typically older internet users be protected from ad harm?
Defend Ad Integrity
The first step to protecting vulnerable internet users starts with where they might be seeing the ads. Taking steps both publisher- and platform-side can help to stem the flow of malvertising before it reaches the internet users. For instance, as GeoEdge explain how publishers can stop low-quality or bad ads from reaching audiences, while platforms themselves can take better control over these platforms to prevent these ads in the first place. As such, this is the responsibility of the platforms and publishers to ensure the adverts are safe and appropriate.
Preventative measures and due diligence at the ad’s inception are the most effective steps in mitigating against malvertising. Ad integrity can help ensure fewer bad actor ads are out there, which can in turn defend vulnerable users from the impact of these ads. Similarly, those running private servers for websites should make sure that spam isn’t being sent that might confuse vulnerable users.
Educate Vulnerable Users
Better education for vulnerable internet users can help them to defend themselves against scams. One of the most efficient things to teach is if in doubt, assume all correspondence is fraudulent. Hard-of-seeing older people may struggle to differentiate between a real email from, PayPal, for example, and a scam one that might be phishing for their details.
Most email servers have some measure of scam prevention and can detect ‘spam.’ To savvy internet users, we know what to expect. But more naive internet users might not. Teaching how scams work and what good and bad ads look like can forearm vulnerable internet users. Some older internet users are still being tricked with the old-fashioned phishing emails, including those purporting to be from an African prince or those suggesting that money is owed to them if they first send bank details.
What Happens When They’ve Clicked on a Scam?
Sometimes vulnerable users may identify a scam the second after they have clicked through a bad ad or given away financial information. All is not lost. The first step would be to report the email to the National Cyber Security Centre. Then, if bank details are involved, contact the bank. If you did open an ad, make sure to check with any existing anti-virus software to see if any attacks were prevented. If you have instantly noticed money has gone, report it as fraud. Understanding how measures can be mitigated helps vulnerable internet users to have peace of mind that they can freely use the internet without worrying.
As we move to a more heavily online world, it’s important to defend against potential scams or threats to vulnerable internet users. Educating vulnerable users, ensuring ads are as reliable as possible at their source, and arming potential scam victims with their next steps can all help mitigate the scourge of internet scammers preying on vulnerable people.