Phone malware likely the culprit for pop-up ads

April 17, 2018 GMT

Recently, The Herald-Dispatch has been receiving complaints about pop-up ads when a user clicks on a story link from Facebook.

Unfortunately, the issue is likely with the user’s device, as the pop-up ads have found their way into iPhone and Android operating systems. And the fix involves keeping your operating system updated and also changing a few phone settings.

The new wave of “congratulations” pop-up ads promise prizes like free Amazon gift cards, iPhones or cash in exchange for clicking on the message or submitting personal information. According to security experts, these ads aren’t just a fraud, they’re infecting your computers or mobile devices with malware.

Researchers from cybersecurity firm Symantec say the scammers look for users to take the bait so victims will enter personal information that is transmitted back to the criminals. “Scammers often craft fake testimonials and endorsements supposedly by other users that look like these were posted on the said platforms,” Symantec officials wrote in a blog post.

Another reported side effect of the “you won” pop-ups has seen Facebook users unintentionally giving scammers access to their friends list. Once a victim’s Facebook is infected, scammers can allegedly send your friends more fake messages through your account.

According to a report by security company Confiant, malicious pop-ups are making a comeback through sophisticated fraud networks which use fake ad agencies to infiltrate legitimate websites and spread “malvertising.”

Tech experts say there are some ways to defend against the fake prizes messages, besides simply not clicking on them. Internet security companies have already identified the brand of malware attacking Android device. The Android.Fakeyouwon virus has been added to the list of known threats anti-malware programs now look for.

For iOS users, Apple recommends always installing the latest updates and turning on the “Block Pop-ups” and “Fraudulent Website Warning” settings for Safari.

CBS News contributed to this report.