Google, working with researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study that found 5 percent of users visiting Google sites were infected with Ad Injectors.
An Ad Injector is a type of adware that can put ads into pages you are viewing, replace existing ads with other ads, and block content you are trying to view. As a result of these annoying pop-ups, Google claimed it has received over 100,000 complaints from users of Google Chrome since the start of 2015.
Google said that this type of software brings a variety of problems for users, advertisers and publishers alike. The user side of the problem is easy to see, as most of us have experienced annoying ads that cover up content and seem to get in the way of our web browsing activities.
For publishers and advertisers, this type of malicious software is an even greater problem. Ad Injectors covering up content and bothering users can drive people away. Because most websites make their living off of advertising, this can drive profits down and cost sites a great deal of money.
Advertisers face similar issues, as they rely on those advertisements to help increase sales.
In the study, Google used 100 million pageviews on Google sites across Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer on many platforms globally. According to the findings, Ad Injectors were found on all OSes, as well as all three web browsers. More than 5 percent of users were infected with at least one ad injector, while half of that 5 percent had at least two, and a third of that 5 percent had at least four.
The researchers took a closer look at Google Chrome extensions as well and found that 34 percent were outright malware, and 192 extensions that affected 14 million users were disabled by Google.
In response to this research, Google is working to improve its policies and security in an attempt to reduce malicious software in its browser.
Users who suspect they might be infected with such software should take additional steps to secure their browser, such as updating security software and utilizing security extensions.