Recently, a malicious website has appeared on the Web, which allegedly allows you to download drivers for AMD Radeon graphics cards. The story is not new, but what is remarkable is that users got to this site by simply clicking on the very first result of a Google search for “AMD driver”.
Of course, this link was not a Google SERP result. It was a standard ad unit, located above the first result of the search results. The block labeled “advertising” is so subtle that a new, inexperienced owner of an AMD Radeon graphics card, looking for drivers, could be fooled.
These text ads are not a new feature of Google, but their extremely discreet label about the promotional nature of the link and the style disguised as search results can be confusing for even the most experienced web user, especially if they are distracted or in a hurry. The problem is aggravated by the fact that these ad units change their position, which makes it difficult to identify them as advertising objects.
This inherently fraudulent tactic is also nothing new in the world of malware. Hackers and scammers have always tried to use text ads to gain access to computers and personal data.
While Google has long had the resources to better protect its users, the company has consistently and quite consciously provided consumers with the ability to identify and avoid threats themselves. At the moment, the only way to remove malicious ads from search results is to report it to the support team, which is not always prompt. And Google is not the only search engine that works this way. The same problem is observed in Bing at the time of this writing.
Unfortunately, based on past experience, this problem will remain with us for many years to come. So don’t relax even as web browsers and antivirus software improve their security checks. Here are a few steps to take:
Always check the URL of the link. This is the best way to make sure that you go to the official site. Do not click on links marked as advertisements. You won’t fall for malicious fake ads if you don’t click on any of the sponsored links. Report malicious links as they appear. Notifying Google of problematic links makes search results safer for everyone on the web.
If you notice an error, select it with the mouse and press CTRL + ENTER.