What Is Malvertising? How Does It Work?
Malvertising, also known as Malicious Advertising, refers to harmful advertisements found in programs connected to the internet. These malicious ads are taken over by cybercriminals and are designed to cause harm to individuals and businesses. They can spread malware, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), and other affiliate scams.
In simpler terms, malvertising disguises itself as normal online advertising but actually delivers dangerous software and threats without needing the user to do anything. Malvertisers can be found on any site and browser, even the ones that are part of your daily visitations. Malvertising installs a piece of code into the user system, which basically hands over the machine to the command and control servers of the threat actors.
Malvertsing is done by threat actors posing as advertisers with legitimate ad space. At the same time, they are embedding malicious Java script in these ad creatives, which can enforce click to advertisers' sites and download spyware to users’ machines. By forcing these attributions, they earn commissions through illicit manipulation of clicks.
How Does Malvertising Work?
A deceitful individual registers for an affiliate program intended for advertisers. The user's browsing experience proceeds normally until they visit a webpage containing advertisements.
The deceitful individual delivers a compromised ad design that includes malicious code, which redirects the user to the individual's own website. Through this redirect, the deceitful individual places a cookie on the user's device. At a later time, the user successfully completes a purchase on the legitimate advertiser's website.
The advertiser wrongly attributes credit to the deceitful individual, despite their lack of contribution in generating the sale. In reality, the deceitful individual jeopardizes the advertiser's brand reputation through an enforced redirect. Consequently, the advertiser compensates them with a portion of the generated revenue.
Malvertising Vs. Adware
The terms "malvertising" and "adware" are occasionally used interchangeably, but they possess significant distinctions.
While malvertising initiates an attack through an infected advertisement, adware is a program designed to monitor a user's online behavior for the purpose of presenting relevant or personalized advertisements.
All instances of malvertising are inherently malicious, whereas certain types of adware are bundled with legitimate software packages. While adware often raises concerns about data privacy and security, it does not grant cybercriminals the ability to take control of the system or manipulate, extract, or delete data.
How to fight Malvertising?
Detecting and evading malvertising poses significant challenges for both consumers and publishers. The sheer quantity of digital ads being generated and the swift circulation of ads within digital ad exchanges contribute to this difficulty. Consequently, publishers often lack the ability to supervise the process of ad verification and assessment directly.
In general, cybersecurity experts encounter great difficulty in pinpointing the exact malicious ad due to the constant flux of ads on a webpage. Additionally, most malvertising attacks necessitate user interaction with the infected ad. As a result, not every visitor to a website will be impacted by a malicious ad, making it even more arduous to identify the specific offending advertisement.
Virus Positive Technologies (VPT) is one such company that helps global brands with compliance and security solutions. VPT is a pioneer in ad fraud detection and prevention with utmost compliance. Our team of talented young individuals flag any violations happening in your network and help affiliates adhere to your guidelines.
Contact: Sales@viruspositive.com to know more.