By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Hotspot Shield Elite and its website scanner may have just saved me from a malware infection brought on my own curiosity and a semi-random internet search. It all goes to show that having an additional layer of malware protection can be is a good thing.
For starters, Hotspot Shield Elite gives users an alert if they go to a known malware distribution site. Called “attack pages” within the security industry, these are simply internet sites that are used to distribute various threats such as malware, phishing, spam, and trojans. If a computer user goes to a suspect site: a warning pops up, HSS Elite generates a picture of what the site looks like, and users have the choice to leave or continue on to the suspect page.
This is exactly what happened during my semi-random search about the creators of Airplane – one of the all time great comedies. I discovered that many of the people in Airplane also played a role in an earlier, much less known film – Kentucky Fried Movie. My search engine brought up a number of results: reviews, YouTube clips, and a free movie streaming site. But on my second visit to the streaming site, a warning popped up.
Legitimate does not equal safe when it comes to malware
Was the site legitimate? Was it malicious? According to www.stopbadware.org, an industry association, the majority of attack sites are legitimate sites that – often due to administrator negligence – have become infected. And deciding whether a site is just poorly maintained or was designed to distribute malware is often an impossible task.
But, I really wanted to find out if there was something at the site which would make my laptop’s antivirus app go red alert: Malware detected. Turning off HSS Elite, I went back to the site. In the next few moments, I was hit with four pop-up advertisements for natural gas, underwear, online betting, and – best of all – free access to online cameras. With an assortment of gyrating females in the background, all I needed to do was enter some details like my name and email address. I got out of there quickly.
Advertisements are not just annoying, they can be malicious
Yes, there were several reasons why HSS would block the site – even if the site itself was not directly distributing malware:
1. Some of the advertisements were either direct scams or very questionable.
2. Any of the advertisements served up could have also contained malware. Malware hidden within advertisements has even hit legitimate sites like the New York Times. Given the number of ads at the sites, there were many opportunities for something questionable to sneak onto the page.
So even though my computer’s antivirus app is completely up-to-date, I appreciate that extra bit of malware protection in Hotspot Shield Elite!
Lyle Frink on Google+