FBI Warns Cyber Criminals Are Impersonating Brands Using Search Engine Advertisements

The FBI has issued a public notice which includes advice to block adverts.  

The FBI warning concerns fake ads impersonating the real thing and diverting potential victims to malicious sites.  The ads are the kind you would see on Google or Bing searches.  The ads being utilized by criminals mimic real brands by using domain names that are similar to the real thing and linking to legitimate-looking web pages that are “identical to the impersonated business’s official webpage”.

The FBI recommends that individuals take the following precautions:

  • Before clicking on an advertisement, check the URL to make sure the site is authentic. A malicious domain name may be similar to the intended URL but with typos or a misplaced letter.
  • Rather than search for a business or financial institution, type the business’s URL into an internet browser’s address bar to access the official website directly.
  • Use an ad blocking extension when performing internet searches. Most internet browsers allow a user to add extensions, including extensions that block advertisements. These ad blockers can be turned on and off within a browser to permit advertisements on certain websites while blocking advertisements on others.

The FBI recommends businesses take the following precautions:

  • Use domain protection services to notify businesses when similar domains are registered to prevent domain spoofing.
  • Educate users about spoofed websites and the importance of confirming destination URLs are correct.
  • Educate users about where to find legitimate downloads for programs provided by the business.

If you’re considering financial advice or shopping around, be very cautious around paid results at the top of your page.  Taking the time to hesitate and do some additional research may save time and frustration later when having to call customer support.

As always, if you ever have questions about anything, feel free to reach out to us by email at helpdesk@mhdit.com or by phone at 813-948-0202. 

Note: For more information on this article, visit Malwarebytes Labs article by Christopher Boyd.


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