Malvertising Attacks Put as Much as $600 Million in Digital Advertising Revenue at Risk in A Single Month; Anti-Malvertising Technology Helps Publishers Fight Back
Digital advertising firm, the Rubicon Project, today announced it has acquired SiteScout, a provider of anti-malware security technology based in Seattle.
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.
the Rubicon Project will use the acquisition to extend the technology within its REVV for publishers™ platform, a system used by online publishers to help maximize online revenue by getting the best price possible across various networks and exchanges in real-time.
“The threats are transient, the bad guys are smart. Solving the problem of malvertising requires serious technology engineered by security experts that runs in the background to protect websites 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.”
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.
Recent malware attacks on popular sites and apps have reduced site traffic by as much as ten percent in a single month, and with that, a parallel reduction in revenue. Across the industry, this represents a net monthly risk of nearly $600 MM, as publishers across the Internet, from Twitter to Facebook to the New York Times, are falling victim to a massive influx and growing complexity of threats related to malvertising.
“We began to look for the right security partner to help address this growing issue for publishers in 2009, evaluating several solutions in this space to complement our industry-leading brand protection technology,” said Craig Roah, COO and Founder of the Rubicon Project. “In side-by-side tests, in a live production environment with real ad tags on premium websites, SiteScout was hands-down the most effective technology. In addition, the technology is easily integrated with our platform, and the SiteScout team is a perfect fit with our strong company culture. This acquisition will enable us to protect premium publishers with the most effective and highly scalable technology solution to address the very real, very dangerous and fast-growing problem of malvertising.”
“The threats are transient, the bad guys are smart. Solving the problem of malvertising requires serious technology engineered by security experts that runs in the background to protect websites 24 hours per day, 7 days a week,” said Rob Lipschutz, CEO of SiteScout and who is now tasked with leading the Rubicon Project’s Brand Protection offering. “We are excited to integrate our team’s combined 40 years of security experience and SiteScout’s proprietary technology with the Rubicon Project and its digital advertising technology platform, REVV, to ensure publishers have a complete technology solution that enables them to keep digital media free for consumers.”
There are unique risks to publishers, advertisers and consumers from malvertising attacks:
• Publisher risks: Revenue loss, customer loss, damage or loss of advertiser relationships, negative publicity, damage to brand, lower product sales
• Consumer risks: Virus-infected computers, compromised privacy, decreased willingness to spend online, financial info theft, identity theft
• Advertiser risks: Legitimate ads ‘hijacked’ for ill-intended purposes, loss of brand reputation, damage to the very consumers they’re trying to target
The new malware protection powered by SiteScout security is available exclusively to REVV for publishers customers as an extension of the Rubicon Project ad technology platform; the SiteScout malware reporting and other product tools are slated to be available within the REVV platform in the third quarter of 2010.
Lipschutz will lead the security and brand protection team for the REVV platform. In addition, the Rubicon Project will open a Seattle office. The company will take advantage of the rich engineering talent in Seattle, with plans to hire in the areas of engineering, product and security.