New Diagnostic Tool Helps Publishers and Ad Networks Identify & Shut Down Malicious Ads
Anti-malware solutions provider, Dasient Inc., today announced a new Anti-Malvertising Solution (AMS) designed to help publishers and advertising networks monitor and remediate malicious advertising attacks whenever they occur.
Dasient’s solution helps publishers and ad networks discover and diagnose malicious ads more efficently, limiting the exposure and severity of a malvertising attack.
Malicious advertising, also referred to as “malvertising,” is a growing method used to distribute malware via advertising tags served through an unsuspecting publisher’s website, blog comments, forums and other forms of user generated content, allowing cybercriminals to create content that used to carry out a wide range of malicious attacks.
With malvertising, fake malicious ads are delivered (often via advertising networks) to well-known websites as a way to reach millions of users at once on websites they normally trust. Unlike typical spam or virus attacks, which rely on victims to click on a link in an email or accidentally download an infected program, malvertising attacks are presented on popular websites and can download malicious code directly onto a user’s computer when the victim views the compromised ad. By infiltrating an entire ad network, the criminal gains access to a broad number of syndicated websites that can spread malicious code even further.
Advertisers, agencies and now cybercriminals often utilize “third party ad tags”, allowing them to control and monitor their ads which removing the ability for publishers to be able to control what ads are served. With larger publishers, ad networks and exchanges having thousands of different ad tags running at any given time, monitoring all campaigns and creative being served is a challenge.
Millions of users have been infected by malvertising threats recently, as evidenced by the high-profile attacks on The New York Times, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, WhitePages.com and other sites.
Based on data generated from Dasient’s telemetry system, there are approximately 1.3 million malicious ads viewed per day. Scareware, or fake security software, is yet another means for criminals to distribute malware through pop-up ads. Dasient estimates that 41 percent of malvertisements are from fake anti-virus pop-ups and 59 percent are from drive-by downloads of the malicious ads. Dasient’s research also uncovered that the probability of a user getting infected from a malvertisement is twice as likely on a weekend and the average lifetime of a malvertisement is 7.3 days.
“Website owners are relying upon their ad partners and ad networks to keep their sites clean and safe for their visitors. When malware is served up to site visitors, trust is lost,” said Dr. Neil Daswani, one of Dasient’s three co-founders. “With malvertising attacks, not only are users at risk, but publishers, ad networks and website owners also feel the pain – their websites can be potentially blacklisted, and they suffer brand loss and reputation damage, resulting in lost customers and increased technical support costs.”
Traditionally, many publishers and ad networks only respond to a bad ad when a user complains about the problem, and one complaint could mean thousands have been infected already by a malvertisement. To deal with the threat, publishers and ad networks have had to manually investigate reports of bad ads, which takes time and resources. Because attacks are sporadic, it makes the source of the bad ad very hard to pin down. To-date, publishers and ad networks have not had an automated solution to address the malvertising problem.
Dasient scans millions of ads and web pages daily to identify the latest malvertising attacks and has built an Infection Library of over 150,000 malvertising attacks and malware. Leveraging this robust database, Dasient’s new Anti-Malvertising Solution:
• Monitors ads from third-party ad networks and automatically identifies malicious advertisements coming into a website or network.
• Immediately notifies the ad network partner or publisher that a malicious ad came through.
• Identifies the exact source ad with an ad ID that needs to be shut down.
• Traces all redirects the ad followed.
• Captures a screenshot of the ad and provides forensic information about the virus that was served for further investigation.
The new Anti-Malvertising Solution from Dasient is available immediately and does not require hardware to install or major software integration. Pricing is based on the number of ad tags and frequency of monitoring. Enterprise pricing starts in the low thousands. Dasient also offers a hybrid solution which includes Dasient’s Web Anti-Malware (WAM) service combined with its new Anti-Malvertising Solution.