Google Ads is one of, if not the largest online ad network operating on the internet today. Millions of blogs and websites use Google Ads to monetize their traffic in order to pay for their operating costs, but running ads on websites and blogs isn’t the only place Google Ads operates. The same ads are served each time you run a Google search and usually appear at the top of the search results. We’ve had one user approach us concerning these ads and some unusual behavior from them. This same user also directed us to another user’s screen share post of just what the problem is. You can see this unexpected behavior on the user’s QuickCast video.
As you can see, clicking on the Google Ad for YouTube produced a result that was very much unwanted. The user’s browser was hijacked and redirected to another URL and also produced some very suspicious popups. The user who contacted us initially discovered this behavior after clicking on a Google Ad for Best Buy, as the same behavior happened to them. This could be a potential problem for Google if hackers have found a way to inject malicious code into its own ad network into Google search results.
Ordinarily, if you clicked those ad links, you would be directed to the company who placed the ad (YouTube, Best Buy, Verizon etc.). Browser hijacking is a good way to inject malware and other unwanted bad things into a system so if this is a problem Google is wrestling with, we hope it gets fixed quickly. We’re contacting Google to make them aware of this problem and of this story. The story is developing and we will try and update here as we can or write another piece should the news warrant it.
For now, we suggest exercising caution when clicking on Google ads at the top of your Google search results.