Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Wikipedia Warns Users "Ads May Mean You Have Malware"

In an official statement released today Wikipedia warned its millions of visitors that if they see ads for anything except Wikipedia's own fundraising appeal, which occurs at the end of the year, here's a good chance their computer is infected with malware.

"We never run ads on Wikipedia," the online encyclopedia said in its statement. "Wikipedia is funded by more than a million donors, who give an average donation of less than 30 dollars. We run fundraising appeals, usually at the end of the year. If you’re seeing advertisements for a for-profit industry (see screenshot below for an example) or anything but our fundraiser, then your web browser has likely been infected with malware."

Malware installed on your computer may inject advertising into a page on popular websites, such as the above example of an article being displayed from an infected computer. This is only one of a few examples that Wikipedia has said they have seen in the wild. Note the tiny text "ads not by this site" immediately below the ad, which may or may not appear next to these types of injected advertisements.

Wikipedia suggests you browse using a secure, encrypted HTTPS connection, disable browser add-ins, and run anti-spyware and anti-virus software on your computer. Personally I'd suggest anyone seeing ads on Wikipedia run scans with Ad-Aware and Malwarebytes as well as running scans with anti-virus software like AVG to make sure there aren't any other infections.

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