Malware: Coming to a Banner Unit Near You

Ad network daisy chains –- the selliing and reselling of ad placements — are sometimes efficient and necessary, but they have their downsides, as everyone in the space knows by now. Most often discussed are the multifarious adjacency issues we hear so much about (A respectable brand appears next to porn content, on spyware applications, or on “link farm” sites that offer no content at all.)

A lesser threat has been the distribution of spyware, viruses and other malicious software via ad units. I’m aware of only a small handful of such instances, including one nearly two years ago in which the Bofra virus was delivered via Falk’s ad servers. However, banner-delivered mal-ware has evidently now become enough of a threat to warrant R&D resources, with the launch of a product called Media Guard from Right Media.

The company, which deployed Media Guard across its trafficking network, calls the add-on “the first in a series of… solutions from Right Media to significantly reduce the growing threat from dangerous applications and software transferred through online ads.”

During a test last month, Media Guard found 17 types of hidden virus in 50,000 ad creatives.

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