How to identify malvertising? Dark side of online ads

How to identify malvertising? Dark side of online ads

Online advertising has matured so much when compared with its initial days, advertising methods have advanced beyond imagination. The advertising industry has advanced tremendously, along with it have grown malicious advertisements, also known as malvertising.  It is spreading all over the advertising industry.


What is malvertising and what can it do?

Malicious advertising uses online advertising to spread malware and compromise other systems. This is done by injecting malicious codes into ads. The malicious ad holder will then pay a legitimate advertising network to display their ads. The ads will get published on various websites, thus every visitor to that site will be under a potential risk of getting infected. The legitimate advertising network and the websites will have no knowledge of the malicious content in the ad.  

How to identify malvertising? Dark side of online ads  


Better than hacking the server

This method of getting into a binary machine is better than hacking the brand server when a malicious content appears on the site they can take control over the site without breaking into the brand’s server. Also, a back door for the malware can be created for entering into the server in the future.


Multiple attacks simultaneously

Ad servers are capable of pushing out ads to different customers or to various brands that come under the same roof. When you look at it in a broader perspective then it will become clear, malvertising is like hacking so many websites at once.


Hard to investigate

Contents of the ad are usually randomized; this makes it harder to get hold of the malicious ad. The malicious ads won’t appear on top every time, so it is a meticulous process to find the malicious ad and investigate it.


Difficult version control

An ad server depends on various third-party sources for republishing the content; it results in a lot of third party taking part in the game. They will be using various version of HTML, CSS files, JavaScript programs, so it is impossible to control and update the version that is being used.


How to stop malvertising?


  • Regularly update versions and plugins   

    This can greatly reduce the possibility of malware entering into the system through creatives. Regular updates keep the firewall of the system on high alert. The ad server should be patched.

  • Plugins within IAB guidelines

    Whenever a plugin is installed it should be from a verified seller, the plugins must be within the guidelines of IAB. Any violation of guidelines can leave you with no recovery in a time of a malware infiltration; malvertising can be stopped if guidelines are taken seriously.

  • Follow the security tips

    The mentioned security procedures of any update must be taken seriously if you are willing to play safe of the revive platform. Malvertising can be prevented if all the precautions are followed without any exceptions. It can become a thing of the past.

Infections of the past

When you look at the stats of the past, you can see a staggering rise in malvertising events and ads. Majority of the servers that are targeted using the malvertising are running on Revive Adserver. The open source ad server toolkit operates approximately 11,500 ad servers across the globe. It was formerly known as OpenX Source, the free platform is often targeted by the malvertisers.


When compared with other open source platforms this number may look a little on the downside, but as mentioned above these ad servers are feeding ads to numerous sites and brands, so this has become a lucrative target for cybercriminals.


The servers that are compromised had a global impact and this was reflected in the upgraded scrutinizing process. The database of the ad server places itself perfectly for cybercriminals. When a database is compromised then it can lead to a major turn of events that is capable of causing catastrophic damage.


There is no need for pages of code to infiltrate the system; just a single line of code can put the entire system in jeopardy. With little unnoticeable changes to the JavaScript variable, the entire revive ad server can be under threat


When the suspected to be infected system administrators are contacted it was confirmed that they were using an older version of the adserver. This helped the malware to get into the system without breaking a sweat.

Technological advancements and upgrades are constantly under threat, but it can be minimized by implementing proper security and scrutiny methods. When all the guidelines pertaining to viewer safety is followed by the word then in the coming day’s malvertising can become a myth.  


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