Ah, Wikipedia. As spring turns to summer and final papers come due, how many students turn to you? While not an end-all-be-all source for information, Wikipedia is undoubtedly very useful- but unfortunately for lovers of the website, there may be some browser-based malware cluttering it up and posing a danger, according to the Wikipedia Foundation. Users should be taking a layered security approach to defending against all kinds of online malware including the variety afflicting Wikipedia right now.
“We never run ads on Wikipedia,” said Philippe Beaudette, director of community advocacy for the Wikimedia Foundation, in a blog post. “If you’re seeing advertisements for a for-profit industry … or anything but our fundraiser, then your web browser has likely been infected with malware.”
One type of malware that could lead to this type of bogus ad is a Google Chrome extension called “I want this,” but there are similar malware add-ons that exist on Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, Beaudette said. Click fraud malware can target multiple websites at once by injecting fake ads. When the ads are clicked on, the malware hijacks your browser and takes you to unwanted sites, in an effort to drive ill-gotten revenue, according to PC World.
PC World said even if you take certain steps to eliminate the Wikipedia ads – by enabling HTTPS, for example – does not fix the fact that the your computer is most likely infected with malware. There could be other components running on the system that may infect the browser again, so the best way to go is to run an antivirus scan and try to get all of the malware off of the computer.
Do you feel safe when surfing websites such as Wikipedia? Ever seen – or clicked on – a malicious ad that was especially convincing (or ludicrous)? Let us know in the comments below!