Most of us have also probably fallen for clicking an ad instead of a link for the original website that we were searching for whether we know it or not. When we search on Google for a certain topic or request, we expect and rely on the fact that we will gain the answer we are looking for quite easily. What if I told you that ad links can be a potential threat to your computer processes?

Recently, a client of ours was looking for groceries and searched for a local grocery store. Believing that the first hyperlink she saw was the original website she could order from, she was faced with an ad that redirected her to a completely different website not linked to the store. The new website began to track the specific items she was interested in, such as buying food and drink products. Essentially, this resulted in the customers having a plethora of ad pop-ups for different grocery items.

What is an advertisement link?

Law Insider states that, “Advertising Links means a hypertext link or other mechanism through which advertising is made available to or accessible by user selection” (Lawinsider).

An example of an ad link is if you search on Google, the first link you may see most likely will be an ad. The link will either redirect you to the marketing page of the website you’re searching or to an entirely different webpage that can potentially harm your computer processes.

How do I know if I am clicking an ad link versus the actual result I’m looking for?

Usually when searching for a specific website, you may want to click the first link that you see. However, pay attention to the title of the website’s name and whether you see “ad” in the beginning of the title. If you do, this may not be the website you are looking for.

Also, pay attention to the hyperlink. If it does not consist of the website’s original name, then this also may not be what you are looking for.

Additionally, even if you may be searching to buy a certain item, these ads still do not give the best results. It is good practice to click on a trusted website rather than an ad.

Here is an example shown below.

So, what are the potential threats in clicking advertising links?

  • Unwanted ad pop ups
  • Viruses
  • Hackers
  • Tracking
  • Decreases chance of best result

Overall, when surfacing the web, pay attention to all links that you may be clicking on. Some ads may redirect you to a malicious website asking to enter private information. Others may trigger a popup that will prompt you to click on a button to “remove detected viruses”. In reality, clicking the button will install them. Avoiding ads decreases the potential threats to your computer and untrusted websites.

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