- - Sunday, March 4, 2018

“This is a stickup!” The consequences of robbery are dire as the epidemic of adware threats like the Google redirect virus inhibit the ability for internet users to receive legitimate web search results.

The methods may have changed in the internet age, but a thief is always a thief and an unsuspecting victim is always the easiest target. There is a fast growing and devious underground movement proliferated by adware and malware browser hijacking known as the Google redirect virus.

The Google redirect virus acts as a browser hijacker threat that modifies a web browser’s settings and injects unwanted advertising into the user’s browser. In some instances, the Google redirect virus redirects users to a totally different website than the one consumers intended to visit.

The browser hijacker may replace the existing home page, error page or default search engine with its own landing page where unsuspecting consumers may either be offered products and services other than the ones they intended to browse.

In a nutshell, it’s virtual hell attempting to deal with the lurking dangerous and mischievous actions that result from using a simple internet search on a system infected with the Google redirect virus.

Both consumers and businesses are susceptible to damages as a result of threats like the Google redirect virus. It is also not limited to only Google users as there are browser hijacking threats that affect popular web browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Bing and Yahoo.

Browser hijackers, adware, and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) can sometimes be installed through unsuspecting sources, such as the installation of freeware applications, toolbars or software bundles.

American computer users have been under attack from North Korean, Russian and Chinese hackers and this current wave of adware proliferation seems to have no end in sight. Potentially unwanted programs, which can be classified as programs that have an undesirable agenda underneath what appears to be a harmless skin, have had a hand in the exposure and advancement of adware.

Despite a booming economy in America and record stock market prices, businesses continue to struggle with the looming dangers that exist from low-level threats that may later evolve into a nuclear-proportioned pandemic.

Companies across the globe are at a heightened risk for infiltration based on the sensitivity of the information carried on their networks. According to the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2017, less than half of the businesses in the U.S., U.K. and Germany are prepared to deal with cyber-attacks.

The insurer’s report surveyed 3,000 companies across the three countries and assessed their readiness to deal with cybercrime in terms of strategy, resourcing, technology and process.

It’s a whole new world considering how social media juggernauts play politics with the monumental amount of advertisements that they spew on user feeds. The unprecedented epidemic of adware spreading on a global scale is a disaster waiting to happen.

We know advertisements on social media networks have had influence on the latest presidential election and various forms of ads have infiltrated the screens of opposing political views.

Threats like Google redirect virus are only a scratch at the surface of what’s possible when a motivated hacker has an agenda. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical solution that will block adware or even legitimate advertisements that are tailored to sway your opinion in one way or another.

Regardless of any agenda, threats like adware, browser hijackers and potentially unwanted programs are very real and computer users are being taken advantage of starting with their web browser being hijacked in some form.

It is already well documented that Russian government hackers were behind 2017 attacks on the business systems of U.S. nuclear power and other energy companies. Reports that another group of Kremlin hackers used automated malware to induce a power outage in Ukraine as well as North Korean hackers breaching an American energy utility should send a chill through the spine of people all over the world.

Google redirect virus and similar threats are potentially harmful in that they essentially hijack your web browser in a way that doesn’t appear to be a blatant attack. Such an attack draws some similarities to that of automated malware attacks around the world that have shown the potential of shuttering power plants or infiltrating large farms of consumer data.

While the Google redirect virus doesn’t have near the potency of aggressive malware designed to overtake a network, it does however leverage the ability for cybercrooks to load specific sites and questionable advertisements that otherwise look harmless to the uninformed.

It behooves computer users of any experience level to properly educate themselves of the apparent dangers of these threats, in addition to learning how adware, browser hijackers and potentially unwanted programs are a growing epidemic.

• Julio Rivera is the editorial director for ReactionaryTimes.com, a small business consultant, and a featured columnist at Newsmax.com.

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