Traffic Factory & AdSecure come together to protect users from digital risk

Dublin, 13 May 2019. AdSecure has formed a new partnership with global ad network Traffic Factory to be their ad security technology provider and drive the continued safety of their network.

AdSecure's innovative technology will scan ad campaigns for suspicious activity before they launch on Traffic Factory's network and then further analyse those campaigns while they are live. Suspicious activity can range from quality issues that damage the user experience, such as auto-redirects, back button hijacks, and auto-downloads, to harmful user security threats like malware, browser lockers, phishing URLs, and ransomware. AdSecure will provide constant detection and notification for these and many other digital threats for Traffic Factory, allowing them to immediately halt the offending campaigns and take the appropriate action to maintain user security and provide an amazing experience, every time.

Takanori Kanto, Sales Director at Traffic Factory commented, "It is with great pleasure that we announce our official partnership with AdSecure, a disruptive new force within the field of ad verification and the fight against malvertising. This collaboration will continue to ensure that our network is 100% secure for both publishers on our network and of course, their end users."

Bryan Taylor, Sales Manager at AdSecure added, "We are delighted to come together with Traffic Factory to launch this great new partnership. Traffic Factory serve over 6 billion daily impressions, and the integration of our ad security solution on Traffic Factory's network ensures that we can work together to protect millions of internet users from today's most modern and pernicious digital threats, and solidify the security of the ads served to Traffic Factory's premium quality traffic sources.

AdSecure provides constant detection and notification of security, compliance & quality issues within the digital ad supply chain. To find out how AdSecure can provide protection for your online business visit www.adsecure.com

TrafficFactory is a global provider of high quality traffic. We've harnessed the most up-to-date, accurate Geo-targeting technology , and combined with our Real-Time Bidding model, our clients get the high quality traffic they deserve at a price they can feel good about. To learn more, please visit the site www.trafficfactory.com

For further press information

Contact press@adsecure.com

EXOGROUP ramps up its investment in AdSecure

Barcelona, 12 March 2019. EXOGROUP, the digital technology enterprise business group, today announced it is making a further significant investment in its online ad verification technology company AdSecure. AdSecure was launched in 2017 to provide ad networks and publishers with ad scanning technology to ensure safe, compliant and malware free ad delivery.

EXOGROUP's further investment of 1 million euros will be used to build more features for the AdSecure platform, grow the existing team and invest in marketing and sales strategies to continue to grow AdSecure's business.

EXOGROUP's CEO and Founder Benjamin Fonzé commented, "Ad networks and Publishers face many challenges in today's market. It is of paramount importance that the end user is protected from cybercriminal activity. AdSecure is constantly developing new AI technologies that intercept any suspicious activity hidden deep within online ad formats, be it in the creatives, ad formats or advertiser landing pages."

"The impact of malicious attacks on end users can have negative effects on business growth, profit and customer confidence. It's important that businesses have the tools available to stop end users being exploited by unscrupulous people who are looking for any opportunity to steal or misuse personal and confidential information as well as hijacking a users devices for malicious means."

"85% of Internet users prefer an ad-supported free Internet therefore it is the duty of all platforms to ensure that those users are fully protected. Our further investment in AdSecure is EXOGROUPs commitment to keeping the internet safe for all users."

AdSecure currently offers a comprehensive range of features that ad networks and publishers can utilise including:

Intelligent Scanning: Crawler technology that automatically scans ad tags, smart links, landing pages, programmatic RTB campaigns and native ads.

Fully automated platform: Easy integration with our powerful API.

Robust detection: Ensuring ads are compliant with client guidelines with extensive detection coverage.

Multi-targeting: Protection from cloaking practices and using behavioral targeting techniques, checking from multiple browsers, devices and locations including residential and mobile carrier IPs to ensure compliant ad delivery and advertiser landing pages.

Instant detection notifications: Whenever a violation is detected, AdSecure generates real-time notification alerts via a callback url or email. The notification provides advanced reports with forensic grade information and detail.

Spy tool: Access every single report, regardless of the detection outcome, allowing a deeper level of forensic analysis thanks to the complete ad redirection chain provided.

AdSecure intelligence: Real-time response feature applied to AdSecure's historical dataset allowing malicious domain blocking.

Ad performance: Monitor the horsepower of ads to stop SEO penalisation from slow ads, and regain control of website performance

AdSecure introduces dedicated Suspicious TLD Detection

AdSecure is committed to providing our partners with a higher level of transparency, choice, and control when evaluating the health and security of their digital supply chain and eliminating malicious digital threats. This is why we are very pleased to announce the launch of a new, dedicated detection option: Suspicious TLD (Top-level domain).

Top-level domains (TLDs)  — such as .com, .org, and .edu — are the most prominent domains on the internet, and we have all spent time on a .com domain. You're reading this on one right now.

While domain names are a key aspect of building a strong online identity, they can also be targeted for abuse by cybercriminals looking to set up hosts for a plethora of dangerous schemes. Spamming, scamming, phishing attacks, malware distribution, and other suspicious activity can often be found lurking on sites with TLDs that look somewhat… unusual.

Enter the Suspicious TLD – top level domains far less familiar to everyday internet users, and frequently weaponized by online scam-artists and threat actors for profit.

Suspicious TLDs — domains ending with things like .xyz, .gq, .country, .stream, — are popular with cybercriminals because they are usually cheaper to obtain than more universally recognised TLDs. This allows the bad guys to register a chain of highly similar top-level domains (like abcd1.xyz, abcd2.xyz, abcd3.xyz) and spread their malicious attacks continuously. When one domain is flagged and shut down, just move your attack to the next one.

Despite the brief lifespan of a Suspicious TLD, their potential impact on the digital ecosystem can ripple far and wide. These domains also pose a unique challenge for dealing with them, because while many have malicious activity lying in wait, many are perfectly clean.

As AdSecure's Technical Director, Pierre Brouca, points out "the issue with a suspicious domain, like .xyz is that there can be completely safe activity on some, while others are definitely being used to spread malware, or a phishing attack. You also have cases like .xin, which in certain regions will definitely be a suspicious domain, but in China, will be a common TLD used legitimately. Being able to understand not only that the domain is suspicious, but that it also has a serious violation attached to it, makes ad delivery more efficient, saving both time and money for our partners."


The paradoxical nature of these TLDs has led other ad verification providers to group them all in the same violation bucket as malware, even when the ad is legitimately harmless. This lack of clarity leads to ads being halted without cause, a loss of time and money tackling a non-issue, and potential friction between publishers and advertisers.

AdSecure brings a clear, precise approach to this challenge by introducing a completely separate, fully dedicated violation classification for "Suspicious TLD". This gives our partners a transparent view of both the suspicious domain and what might — or might not — be lurking within, as our scan reports will also flag separately each additional violation attached to the ad campaign.

With a complete view of what's really happening within Suspicious TLDs, choice and control over how to proceed is returned, and our partners can confidently take the action that is best for their business.

AdSecure's new dedicated detection for Suspicious TLD will be available to all partners as of the 31st of January. To learn more, click here

3 trending ad compliance problems in 2019… and how to solve them

Within the digital advertising ecosystem the challenge of securing ad creatives against malicious threats has historically taken a back seat to the bigger, "louder" problem of ad fraud. The impact invalid traffic has on the digital supply chain is often easier for stakeholders to get their heads around, leaving malvertising as a "quiet" problem that has allowed threat actors to fly under the radar and profit from the ensuing damage.

In 2015 an IAB report found an overall US$1.1 billion cost impact on digital advertising from malvertising attacks. Despite being less immediately visible, the problem of creative compliance is not new, and since 2015 attacks have scaled in lockstep with the digital ad ecosystem.

That's the bad news. The good news is that awareness of the problem – and the resolve to fight it – has also grown. The quiet problem is finding its voice.

With programmatic exchanges making creative compliance a key pillar of their programmatic principles, and Google taking a near zero tolerance approach to abusive ads with the launch of Chrome 71, the focus on delivering clean, compliant creatives has sharpened dramatically. For publishers — and the networks and exchanges they partner with — the cost of inaction will soon become too high to ignore.

AdSecure has identified 3 problems that we expect to trend throughout 2019 and the best solutions to face them head on, and win.

Programmatic & Mobile ad spend: threat actors follow the money

The Problem:

The rise of programmatic ad spend continued throughout 2018, and in 2019 an estimated 65% of all money spent on digital ads will be traded programmatically. Advertisers will spend US$84 billion on programmatic advertising this year, and by 2020 the total is expected to rise to US$98 billion. The money flowing programmatically is massive, and there's one certainty when discussing malicious activity: follow the money.

More money, more malicious problems. Everything swells in programmatic, creating an ideal breeding ground for dangerous attacks. With publishers losing visibility and control over exactly who is buying traffic, the question of facing malicious activity becomes a matter of when, rather than if.

Similarly, mobile ad spend comprised a staggering 75% of all digital ad spending in 2018, and that growth will continue in 2019. The amount of money involved in mobile advertising is like catnip for criminals. In November 2018, a malware campaign targeting iOS devices managed to hijack an astounding 300 million browser sessions within 48 hours. The culprit behind that attack is still active today.

The AdSecure Solution:

For publishers, negating the damage wrought by malvertising attacks on programmatic campaigns means taking back control to protect both visitors and the revenue streams that fuel the creation of new, engaging content. Trusted partners that embrace the need for transparency and a commitment to delivering clean, malware free programmatic campaigns are a must.

Working with partners who collaborate with dedicated ad verification vendors capable of scanning programmatic campaigns to detect malicious attacks is the best solution. Should ad networks and exchanges not show a willingness to provide that solution, publishers can take on a dedicated service directly, and possibly reconsider their future partner relationships.

With the power mobile campaigns hold in today's digital advertising landscape, particularly those campaigns running on carrier networks, an anti-malvertising provider that enables their clients to scan campaigns across a global mobile carrier proxy network is key, as is being sure that you decide which campaigns are scanned using mobile carrier proxies, and the frequency. Control needs to be in your hands.

Ad Cloaking & IP Blacklisting: sleight of hand from cyber criminals

The Problem:

Threat actors are clever, and quite inventive when it comes to bypassing ad operations teams searching for bad ads. In order to avoid scrutiny, or risk their attack being stopped before the damage can be done, criminals often resort to ad cloaking via IP blacklisting. Once they have identified those IPs they want to avoid, they are added to a blacklist, which will then present the flagged IPs with a clean ad while the dangerous content creeps along to the intended target.

Some schemes go so far as blacklisting all standard datacentre proxies in a target location, making it difficult for a scanning solution that relies on these proxies alone to detect cloaked attacks. In this scenario, even a dedicated verification tool will be fooled into allowing dangerous attacks to slip through.

The AdSecure Solution:

What if you could take from cyber criminals their ability to know just which IPs to blacklist, but also nullify the benefits of blacklisting altogether? It's entirely possible with the right approach to proxy coverage. Scanning ad creatives using an intricate network of Residential IPs makes it virtually impossible for an attacker to determine which IPs to blacklist, while making it counterproductive to do so, as these IPs belong to the very users they are looking to target.

Ad cloaking is a growing concern for many ad networks looking to protect their reputations for clean ad delivery and instill confidence in their publishing partners, but with an innovative approach to proxy usage it's a concern that they can safely say they have covered.

Cryptojacking: a drain on (other people's) resources

The Problem:

Cryptojacking attacks exploit computer processing power to mine cryptocurrencies without the owner's consent or knowledge. It's a relatively new way for hackers to generate profit from malvertising, but it's definitely a growth enterprise. Last year over 34,000 sites were found running Coinhive, a javascript miner with both criminal and legitimate purposes.

Cryptojacking is growing because it's easy money and relatively simple to use, even for those low on tech savvy. Cryptojacking is seen as less risky and more profitable than ransomware as it continuously generates income. It is also far more difficult to uncover than ransomware, lowering the fear of being caught.

One way to implement a cryptojacking program is by injecting a script into a digital ad or website. Once a user visits the infected site, or encounters the ad carrying the cryptominer the script is executed, leaving the user blissfully unaware.

This differs from typical malvertising attacks as there is no obvious damage to the user. It does, however, put a massive drain on the CPU of the users device. For individuals this can be annoying, but for a large organisation infected by a cryptojacking script, the costs of detecting and resolving performance issues, or replacing equipment can have a detrimental impact.

The AdSecure Solution:

Scan your creatives early, and often. When looking at dedicated solutions for scanning ad campaigns and detecting suspicious behaviour, a tool that gives you the ability to scan in large volumes will be most effective in protecting users from falling victim to a cryptominer that kills their devices over time.

One final thought: The importance of transparency and trust in your ad tech partners

Digital is unique in that the seller of traffic is responsible for what appears on their site, so ultimately it's the publisher who gets the blame when something malicious is delivered to their visitors. That duty of care to the consumer means working with partners who understand the weight of that responsibility.

Transparency and trust are key in safeguarding users from harm. Partnering with compliance experts who bring a full spectrum approach to tackling malicious activity, and know that rather than holding control over protection tools and obscuring when they are used — and how often — it's through empowering clients to take back control of ad creative quality that will ultimately lead to the creation of a secure digital advertising ecosystem.

AdSecure provides creative security solutions that empower our partners to take back control and keep their ads safe. We provide solutions for programmatic & mobile campaign scanning, and robust protection against ad cloaking & IP blacklisting via our innovative residential proxy model. Click here to learn more.

AdSecure launches new Native ad protection feature

Dublin, 14 January 2019. AdSecure, the ad verification tool used by ad networks, ad operations teams and publishers, today announced the addition of Native ad protection to its digital weapons arsenal in order to combat digital threats and malware and safeguard end users when exposed to online advertising.

Native ads pose an interesting challenge when it comes to protecting the user experience. Normally, the Native ad itself looks perfectly clean and harmless but the potentially dangerous elements lurk underneath the surface when a user engages with the Native ad. Post click is where attacks can happen at multiple points throughout the redirection chain, therefore a crucial aspect of protecting against the corruption of Native ads is the ability to understand where a user is sent once they engage with a Native ad.

The risk of attacks via Native ads increases when factoring in the use of programmatic campaigns into the mix. The loss of direct control on the demand generated by programmatic can lead to rapid scaling of harmful activity by cyber criminals.

AdSecure has addressed this issue with a 'new click option' which scans and analyses the entire redirection chain: from the Native widget display image through to the final ad's landing page. This process reveals a full understanding of what will happen to the user post click in order to stop any harmful activity from damaging their experience and their security.

AdSecure's Product Manager Mathieu Derval commented, "The Native ad format has proved to be incredibly popular and effective both on social media platforms and more traditional news media sites. This has led to massive growth, according to eMarketer, Native ad spend by U.S. marketers rose by more than 30% when compared to 12 months ago. Additionally, with so many apps and mobile sites designed to compliment the Native format over 90% of ad dollars go toward mobile placements. The Drum estimates that 90% of the world's largest brands are running Native campaigns."

Derval continued, "With the exponential growth of Native ad placements, criminals are using this format to inflict cyber crime after the end user engages with the Native ad. The end user can then fall victim to a redirection hijack that sends them to a malicious, or offensive landing page. AdSecure's technology ensures that end users, publishers, ad operations teams and ad networks are fully protected with our new click option, taking creative security to the next level."  

To find out more about AdSecure or to request a free demo please visit https://www.adsecure.com/contact/

How AdSecure kept advertising safe in 2018

2018 is drawing to a close, and before we know it, 2019 will kick off in full swing, bringing with it new challenges and new opportunities. 2018 marked the launch of an amazing journey for our ambitious project. We overcame challenges, discovered new opportunities for growth, and drove our mission forward to empower our partners in the digital ad space to act with confidence and control when facing malicious activity.

With the holidays fast approaching, the AdSecure team thought it was a good time to take a look back at some of our 2018 highlights, and a few quick (spoiler free) hints at what's coming for 2019.

Embracing evolution

Cyber criminals are always looking for new methods to advance the spread of – and to profit from –  malicious activity. At AdSecure we decided to tackle ongoing bad guy innovation with the mindset of continuing to evolve and adapt to stop criminals from ruining the experience of user's looking to engage with great content.

In December 2017 we first introduced our innovative approach to combat cloaking and IP blacklisting techniques with our intricate network of standard, residential, and mobile carrier IPs spread around the globe. In 2018 we picked up right where we left off, adding new locations to expand the scope of our coverage, including Australia, Greece, Nigeria, South Africa, Taiwan, and United Arab Emirates to name a few.

Throughout the year we also continued to enhance the level of protection we provide for our partners. In 2018 we added scanning & support for:

  • Auto-redirects
  • SSL non-compliant
  • Push ads
  • Programmatic RTB Campaigns
  • Click-on banner
  • Native ad protection

AdSecure will continue evolving and adapting to face the newest, and most dangerous, digital threats as they surface by adding new locations, tools, and ad format protections throughout 2019.

Taking the show on the road

In 2018, AdSecure stepped out into the adtech world and officially announced our arrival as a new, ambitious start up with the goal of building a safer digital advertising ecosystem by bringing clarity, simplicity, and innovation to the ad creative verification process.

We chose to introduce ourselves at two of the biggest media shows in Europe. In both cases, it was an amazing experience for us, and we can't wait to make an even bigger splash in 2019!

Mobile World Congress 2018  

Most of the AdSecure team live and work in beautiful Barcelona, so attending Mobile World Congress – the world's largest mobile tech conference – was a no-brainer for us. The chance to introduce ourselves to stakeholders in the mobile advertising space and learn what is most important to them when it comes to keeping their campaigns compliant and malware free — and develop our solution informed by their insights and experiences — was invaluable.

 DMEXCO18  

Arguably the most important conference on the digital marketing calendar, at DMEXCO18 in Cologne we took to the stage, quite literally, as a first time exhibitor, joining some of the biggest ad networks, exchanges, and ad tech companies out there. The DMEXCO experience is exhilarating and at times overwhelming, but ultimately completely unforgettable.

Over the 12th & 13th of September we had an amazing time discussing the key issues companies face when it comes to tackling malicious activity and compliance challenges, and showing them how we can help keep their ads safe with our innovative approach to ad creative security. We also took the opportunity to announce the end of our platform beta, and the countdown to our full platform launch! In addition to having high quality conversations, we met fantastic people, and sparked great new relationships that led to strong partnerships in the months following.

As a DMEXCO freshman myself, for anyone out there in the digital world considering attending for the first time in 2019, take it from me: the experience cannot be beat. See you at DMEXCO19!

Setting the stage for 2019

Over the past few months our brilliant development team have been working hard to bring the new AdSecure user interface to life, in order to provide our partners with a robust, powerful, and easy to use platform that both protects their ad creatives from myriad threats, and helps them regain control of their digital landscape.

In November the team completed this goal, and we were delighted to announce the launch of our full AdSecure platform, both to our current partners, and future partners we are excited to work with in the coming years. Now, as we close 2018, our team is busy finalising work on the next key new addition to AdSecure, a real-time threat response tool which will allow our users to block malicious domains before they have a chance to damage – either to their own business, or that of their trusted partners.

For those who have been following us throughout 2018 — either as a collaborator, or as someone curious to learn more about us — we hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as we have. To all our clients who showed confidence and trust in the work we are doing, and helped us grow in leaps and bounds this year, we want thank you for trusting us to keep your ads safe. 

We also want to let you know that we have some big plans for 2019. We intend on starting the year on a high note straight away, with the announcement of a great new partnership, which we will tell you all about… next year! Watch this space.

AdSecure strengthens its proxy coverage across the globe

As part of our commitment to help ad platforms, publishers, and ad operations teams preserve trust and maintain security in the online advertising ecosystem, we are excited to announce that we have significantly improved our standard proxy coverage by adding 29 new locations:

  •   Armenia
  •   Azerbaijan
  •   Belarus
  •   Bolivia
  •   Bosnia and Herzegovina
  •   Cambodia
  •   Dominican Republic
  •   Greece
  •   Jamaica
  •   Jordan
  •   Kenya
  •   Kyrgyzstan
  •   Laos
  •   Macedonia
  •   Moldova
  •   Morocco
  •   Nigeria
  •   Pakistan
  •   Philippines
  •   Serbia
  •   Sierra Leone
  •   South Africa
  •   Sri Lanka
  •   Taiwan
  •   Tajikistan
  •   Tunisia
  •   Turkmenistan
  •   United Arab Emirates
  •   Uzbekistan

By continuing to extend our international coverage, AdSecure enables advertising and ad tech teams to efficiently scan every campaign running on their networks, whatever the target locations are.

If you would like to find out more about integrating AdSecure into your business, please visit contact for more information.

Google plans to kill all your ads if you don't kill the abusive ones first. Here's how you do it.

OK, kill might be a touch dramatic. However, if you are a publisher displaying ads on your site, or an ad platform serving ads up, the impact is no joke.

The arrival of Google Chrome 71 in December marks a major escalation in Google's efforts to stop the negative impact abusive adscan have on users. Chrome 71 will block abusive ads — commonly known as malvertising — so that users cannot be deceived into clicking through and exposing themselves to, at the very least the nuisance of an auto-download or a back button hijack, or on the far more serious end of the spectrum, a ransomware attack or a nasty phishing url.

Publishers impacted

This is a good thing, and Google has made previous attempts to tackle these harmful ads with Chrome 68. The key this time is that for repeat offenders, Google won't merely block the abusive ads on your publisher site, it will block ALL ads until you can consistently clean up your act and protect your website visitors. Google will give you a 30 day grace period to check your Abusive Experiences Report and take action, but should those actions fall short, or worse not be tackled at all, Google will remove all ads from view.

The potential impact for publishers is immediately clear. Revenue from digital ad streams relied on to cover the costs of producing quality, engaging content will evaporate almost immediately, increasing the pain of keeping users interested and coming back day in and day out. Brand confidence will stumble as well when those advertisers buying ad space realise that money has been wasted and their ads won't be seen by the customers they want to get in front of. A publisher running afoul of Google's wrath will quickly find themselves caught in a vicious circle.

For the ad platforms these publishers work with to sell their traffic to the highest bidder there will be an unavoidable knock-on effect. Sites that start cleaning up to ensure their ads don't suffer from a blanket block will soon realize that certain platforms continually serve up these problem ads and lose confidence in their viability as a partner. An ad platform struggling to deliver clean creatives can find their reputation tarnished before they really know what's hit them.

Time to clean up

So what can you do to keep your ad creatives clean, user friendly, and visible on Chrome 71? Start by taking the problem seriously. 2018 has been an important year for shining a light on the problem of malicious, deceptive content. Recently, six leading programmatic exchanges came together to develop a set of guiding principles for a safe and transparent programmatic ad market, and chief among them was a commitment to scanning all creatives for malware and other ad quality issues. With Google now taking this major step with the launch of Chrome 71, the challenge of eliminating bad ads can no longer be put on the back burner.

Avoid the trap of thinking your operation is too big to be plagued by efforts to infect the ads you work with. While malware issues might trouble smaller digital publishers more regularly, major players can fall victim to some incredibly sophisticated, painful attacks. When this happens, the impact across the digital ecosystem is all the more severe, and the scope that much greater.

What are you doing now?

Next, take a look at what you're doing now to tackle the problem. Is it agile enough to catch everything? An in house solution might seem like a suitable stop gap, but a basic tool will never detect every threat, particularly as cyber criminals continue to innovate and develop more sophisticated techniques for delivering dirty ads. This leaves ad operations and compliance teams struggling to keep up and ultimately fighting a battle they can never win. Partnering with a dedicated ad verification solution can ensure teams have the support they need, and are empowered to take decisive, data driven action.

For publishers and ad platforms already working with a trusted partner focused on ad quality challenges and still struggling to keep compliant, it's likely that a single partner won't suffice, or the solutions they offer are too limited in scope to solve complex challenges. The easy appeal of a real-time blocking solution, for example, sounds like a perfect fix, but in reality the embedded script tasked with blocking in "real-time" relies on a cache system to identify a previously encountered bad ad. Considering the speed and creativity with which talented programmers reinvent or modify the dangerous content injected into an ad, that real-time blocking script will still let any bad ad it has never dealt with before slip through the cracks.

You might be armed with a hammer, but that doesn't mean every problem is a nail. Within the evolving landscape of malicious behaviour, many new problems will call for a more subtle approach.

New challenges, creative solutions

Another rising concern keeping those handling ad quality compliance awake at night is ad cloaking.  When a member of your compliance team is performing an online quality check, they are likely doing so from a single fixed IP, or at best a small range. Armed with this information, an attacker generates a script that effectively cloaks an attack via IP blacklisting, leaving that visitor viewing a clean ad while the dangerous elements make their way to the target audience.

Again the task at hand requires combating criminal ingenuity. To deal with cloaking, implementing a more sophisticated strategy, using an intricate network made up of millions of proxies renders blacklisting virtually impossible, and ultimately pointless as they would be blacklisting the IPs of their intended victims.

The challenge of malvertising is difficult to face, but impossible to ignore. For publishers and ad networks, the best defense against bad ads is a multifaceted approach combining internal commitment and focus with the external experience and performance abilities of dedicated partners capable of providing confidence, control, and a commitment to creative security.

A trusted partner

We are committed to working with our partners to solve today's most difficult ad verification challenges. To learn more about the AdSecure platform, our mission to stop cyber criminals from doing harm, and our approach to clean ad delivery, click here.

Ad formats & how they can be corrupted: #2 Banners

What is a banner?

A banner ad, also known as a display banner, is an online advertising format that is typically a designed visual or an image accompanied by text or a call to action. When an end user clicks on the banner he is redirected to a landing page for the advertiser's offer.

Why do cybercriminals target this format

Cybercriminals seek to take advantage of both display advertising and related ad landing pages to distribute multiple forms of malicious content, by leveraging the ad ecosystem to their advantage. The ad industry is a complex and powerful machine and with the growth of programmatic advertising, where the buying and selling of advertising is carried out automatically in real time, this can lead to a loss of control of the security of ads being served by ad exchanges and ad networks. The rise of programmatic advertising is helping to fuel the robust growth in malvertising. By replacing human decision making for the purchasing and placement of advertising with software in a machine to machine ecosystem, there are new opportunities for criminals to exploit display advertising to distribute malware and hide malicious code within a banner ad.

The banner is still one of the most used ad formats and because of its sheer global volume, the reach and exposure cybercriminals can achieve once they get a banner containing their malicious code to slip through the net, can be huge.

How do they do it?

Some of the most common ways criminals spread malicious banners include:

  • Malicious code hidden within the ad creative, which is enabled only once the campaign has been approved by an ad platform.
  • By compromising trustworthy and legitimate advertiser accounts on ad platforms.
  • The creation of fake identities (skype, linkedin…) in order to mislead someone in the ad chain.
  • Targeting high profile publishers rather than multiple low profile ones to maximize their exposure with a single rogue campaign.
  • Taking advantage of the naivety of end users, who mistakenly often think they need to actually click on a malicious ad to get infected

What examples has AdSecure seen of malicious advertising using this format?

Nowadays, the most common violations with banners are auto-redirects: when an infected ad is effectively being displayed on a publisher's website, it can get to a point where the iframe will take over control of the website and redirect the visitors to malicious landing pages (containing social engineering content, or even worse, exploit kits).  

Additionally, banner ads can show inappropriate content, for example, a banner containing adult material being displayed on mainstream or even children's websites, or the image and text of a banner ad that has been designed to mimic genuine warning alerts generated by computer security software.

What is the solution?

AdSecure helps ad platforms and publishers regain control and confidence by offering an ad quality solution capable of scanning, analyzing and detecting malicious and non-compliant ads and their related landing pages.

If you would like to find out more about incorporating AdSecure into your business, please visit our contact page for more information.