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Organizations Unite To Combat Malicious Advertising

Facebook, Google, Twitter, AOL, IAB Unite to Protect Users From Malicious Ads With Creation of Ads Integrity Alliance

A new alliance comprised of several large online companies and organizations on Friday, announced the launch of the “Ads Integrity Alliance,” an initiative with a mission to protect users from bad ads and maintain trust in the online advertising world.

Ads Integrity Alliance MembersLaunched by StopBadware, an organization that has focused on combating malicious software of various types, charter members of the new alliance include Facebook, Google, Twitter, AOL, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

“The Ads Integrity Alliance is a natural extension of StopBadware’s mission to make the Web safer by combating badware,” said the nonprofit organization’s executive director, Maxim Weinstein. “No one can address Internet-scale threats on their own, so we’re bringing together industry leading organizations to tackle the problem collaboratively.”

Online advertising firms have been working hard but are increasingly challenged in the quest to protect users from bad ads, including those that deliver malware (commonly referred to as “malware”), direct users to scams, or attempting to sell counterfeit goods.

"Malvertising" is a growing method used to distribute malware via advertising tags served through an unsuspecting publisher’s web site, blog comments, forums and other forms of user generated content, allowing cybercriminals to create content that can be used to carry out a wide range of malicious attacks.

Advertisers, agencies and now cybercriminals often utilize third party ad tags which allows them to control and monitor their ads, which removes 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.

The Alliance has the mission to help build upon the efforts already in place by its members to combat malicious ads and address the overall problem in three ways:

Develop – The alliance plans to establish industry policy recommendations for the worst types of “bad ads”, including counterfeit goods, scams, and malware.

Share – The organization says it will develop a platform for sharing information about bad actors as well as develop and share best practices for defining and policing of bad ads.

Educate - In addition to sharing best practices, the Alliance says it will share relevant trends with policymakers and law enforcement agencies.

“Bad ads, such as those that facilitate malware distribution or deceive users, diminish the online user experience and threaten trust in the Web,” said Eric Davis, global public policy manager at Google. “The Ads Integrity Alliance will serve as a forum for us to work together to protect users from bad ads and strengthen trust in the advertising ecosystem.”

Recognizing the growing threat of malicious content, social media giant Twitter earlier this year acquired Dasient, a provider of anti-malware solutions for web sites and ad networks.

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For more than 10 years, Mike Lennon has been closely monitoring the threat landscape and analyzing trends in the National Security and enterprise cybersecurity space. In his role at SecurityWeek, he oversees the editorial direction of the publication and is the Director of several leading security industry conferences around the world.