otamalvertising

Billions of Web Ads Carried Malware in 2010

  |  February 10, 2011   |  Comments

Online Trust Alliance says it confirmed incidents of malvertising on 3,500 sites and 200 unique ad networks.

More than 10 billion online ad impressions served up in 2010 carried malware, according to recent research from Online Trust Alliance. The organization, dedicated to establishing best practices for ensuring data privacy and security online, argues that delivery of ads transferring malicious code could be prevented if ad networks and other ad third parties took care to know their business partners.

The organization estimates most of the malvertising served last year came in the form of display ads, and many of the ads emanated from outside the U.S. Based on aggregate data from ad serving firms, OTA reported in December that it confirmed nearly 19,000 incidents of malvertising last year occurring across 3,500 sites and 200 unique ad networks.

To arrive at its estimate of 10.8 billion bad ad impressions, the group estimated the number of impressions that ran on average per incident in a typical three-day period - the average number of days a malvertising campaign runs before it’s discovered and stopped. Ads carrying malicious code usually enter through unverified ad agencies submitting them into the supply chain. "Legitimate advertisers are being compromised; they're a victim as well," said Craig Spiezle, executive director of the OTA.

otamalvertising

 

"Every major ad network, whether it's Yahoo, Microsoft or Google, has experienced this," said Spiezle. The group calls malvertising a low frequency but high impact security problem. While Spiezle acknowledges the yearly estimate of 10 billion malvertising impressions is miniscule compared to the number of ad impressions that run online in total, he said the estimate is "very, very, very conservative." ComScore measured around 417 billion ad impressions in September 2010 alone. "The last thing we want is for consumers to be fearful of the ads," added Spiezle.

Typically, the bad ads carry code that captures the "fingerprint" of a user's machine, determining what software it's running, tracking key strokes, and grabbing logins and passwords. "For a machine that's exposed to this and is unprotected, anything is fair game," said Spiezle.

"We know it's well over 10 billion" impressions, said Spiezle, adding, "The challenge is this is a moving landscape." The OTA will discuss the research findings at the RSA security conference in San Francisco Monday.

Spiezle said the OTA does not know how many malvertising impressions have been intercepted by browsers or security software.

The OTA, a group founded in 2004 that counts around 80 different companies including eBay, Chase, Symantec, Microsoft, and even the U.S. Senate and U.S. Postal Service as members, publishes scorecards rating adoption of best practices by entities dealing with online data.

"This is an industry-wide issue.... This could really impact consumer trust and the vitality of interactive advertising as we know it," Spiezle said. "The supply chain was not built with a security goal in mind."

Tags:

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Media newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...