The Top 10 Most Annoying, Frustrating, Irritating, and Sinister Online Ads

They're well beyond bells and whistles: Advertisers are flashing, honking, slithering, and sometimes delivering malware to get your attention.

10. Bait, Switch, and Infect Ads

A related type of online ad is the kind that entices you with too-good-to-be-true offers. Such messages predate the Web, of course, but online they cause a lot of grief, notes Paul Piccard, director of threat research at Webroot Software.

Earlier this month the Web site of the Arizona Daily Star in Tuscon was hit with a "maliciously coded online advertisement," according to the newspaper's own report. The Star reports that the online ad was purchased by a company using a fraudulent credit card. The ad appeared on the newspaper's site for 18 days and "directed some Web visitors to sites that could have installed harmful software," says the Star's report.

Piccard says that such ads typically promote free software or another giveaway, trying to drive traffic to a booby-trapped Web page. If you click on such an ad, it whisks you away to a Web site that attempts to install malware onto your system through Web browser security holes.

As the Arizona Daily Star will attest, these ads can make their way onto legitimate sites and cause havoc. Piccard says that the malicious payloads these ads deliver to PCs include keyloggers (which collect and send personal identifying financial information), adware, and spyware.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Spring

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?