Online advertising is a booming industry with over 204 billion dollars spent on advertising worldwide in 2017. Countless websites use advertisements to pump up their earning power and recommend useful products and services to their visitors. But many website owners fail to consider the security of their ads, leaving consumers open to risk. Here's what you need to know to keep your ad platform secure.
What is a Secure Ad Platform?
As a consumer, how many times have you been surfing the internet, reading a news article, or making a purchase when an ad blocks your view? Often, malware ads pop up and refuse to go away, forcing you to close your browser or app to get rid of them.
As Fast Company reported in early 2018, these malware ads negatively influence the consumer experience. In fact, even big-name websites like The New York Times and The Atlantic have fallen victim to malware ads that hinder users' ability to read and interact with articles.
The bad news is, although these ads may appear to be publisher-run material, it's difficult for sites to find the source and remove them. As top-tier publishers are finding out, a secure ad platform is crucial for both consumer trust and a dependable income stream.
Consider the fact that malicious auto-redirect ads have cost publishers and marketers over $1 billion, according to Fast Company's expert. Smaller businesses stand to lose a proportionate amount of their income as well if malware continues to dominate the internet.
In contrast with the spammy pop-up ads that many users run into, a secure ad platform maintains only legitimate and scam-free advertisements. This protects your audience and your reputation as a business or website owner.
A secure platform can also notify website owners of potential problems. Scanners and subsequent reports inform you when ads and landing pages are out of compliance with your specifications so that you can avoid exploit-kit based and other attacks.
Even if you don't have secure ad software to do the work for you, there are still steps you can to recognize and mitigate security risks.
Security Red Flags to Watch For
Filtering out legitimate versus malware ads without software involves thoroughly checking your website and files for signs of "infection." From viruses to Trojan software, there's a lot that can hide in advertisements.
On the back end of your website, keeping an eye out for unauthorized code changes can help you catch malware before it wreaks havoc. Often, spam ads "hack" into your website's code and cause annoying and potentially viral popup ads.
Unfortunately, because these malware ads are attempting to go unnoticed, they can be hard to identify. However, some programs scan your code and automatically make backup files. You can do this manually, too, with a bit of general coding knowledge.
Sluggish Site Behavior
While you may be more concerned with what's happening behind the scenes on your website, it helps to visit your website the way your audience does. This way, you can gauge your site's loading speed. The longer it takes to load, the more likely there's a problem with your ad platform.
Visiting your website from the front end will also show you any malware that's currently active. If you experience popup ads when you load your site, you'll know you need to take a closer look at the administrative end.
How to Stay Secure with Ads
While it can be hard to get rid of malware ads once they infiltrate your site, some simple preventative measures can help avoid them in the first place. Here are a few ways to stay secure with ads.
Use Secure Hosting
Depending on your business model, you may look for the least expensive hosting option available. But according to InfoWorld, hackers tend to target shared hosting servers. Because shared Web hosting servers host multiple domains, their information stores give hackers tons of information for phishing.
The alternative to shared server hosting is dedicated hosting, which often costs more but allows you more control over your server. You can also add extra security precautions that prevent hackers from readily accessing your information.
Run Malware Checks
Scanning your ad tags and landing pages for any issues can help identify malware before it takes over your website. You can also run checks from more than one browser, device, or location to ensure that everything is running smoothly.
Keep Things Simple
Overall, the more features on your website, the more likely you will fall victim to security breaches. That's because complex code can hide malware codes more effectively, meaning you may not notice a website malfunction until a user reports it. At that point, you may have lost revenue already.
Trimming down the features on your website can help reduce your odds of falling victim to hacking, but that doesn't mean you have to forgo interactive features that your customers will find useful.
PixelPrivacy.com is all about making the world of online security accessible to everyone. Check out Pixel Privacy's blog if you're interested in keeping your private information just that: Private!
AdSecure's platform is the intelligent defense against malvertising. If you are a publisher or an ad network our software will alert you when malware is being served on your website or network and keep all of your advertising safe. Contact us for a free trial