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Already at a very high number, malvertising attacks will increase that much more this coming year, a new report said.

Serving malware and other nefarious content through ad networks is an attack vector gaining more traction with attackers and after Bitdefender researchers analyzed the ads on 150,000 pages, they found 7 percent of them led users to malware, spam or phishing websites.

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The ads were on sites that users visit after searching for terms such as “free movies,” “free music,” “free downloads,” “lose weight,” “make money from home” or “ torrents” on search engines.

Most of the ads are business-related (20.73 percent). Other popular categories are computers and software (20.29 percent), gambling (12.84 percent), health, news, file sharing and adult sites.

Cyber Security

Researchers said 58 percent of the websites promoted this way fall into the fraud category, followed by spam, malware, untrusted and phishing sites.

Most threats originate in the United States, the Netherlands and Canada. The United Kingdom and Germany are also in the top 5 malvertising sources, according to the report.

“In 2014 we expect cybercriminals to exploit advertising more and more in order to deliver malware or trick users into enrolling in various games through which they end up losing money. Millions of users from all around the world are exposed to virus infections, fraud or spam,” said Bitdefender Chief Security Strategist Catalin Cosoi.

Click here for the complete report, entitled “The Murky Waters of the Internet: Anatomy of Malvertising and Other e-Threats.”

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