Some of the biggest names in the Internet business have joined the crusade against malware-infected and fraudulent online advertisements, becoming part of the Ads Integrity Alliance, which was launched last week through the StopBadware project.
The illustrious list features the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter and AOL, as well as industry trade body the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The idea is to crack down on bad ads and cyber scams by having the alliance members share and spread information. This will involve exchanging data on the latest types of attacks and presenting policymakers and law enforcement agencies with recommendations on best practices for dealing with the problem.
But even a club with such prominent members will have to work very hard, StopBadware executive director Max Weinstein said. He hopes that the Ads Integrity Alliance will succeed in educating companies and showing them the best ways of nipping nefarious plans in the bud. It basically boils down to effective management of the problem, Weinstein noted, adding that it is extremely important to intercept and remove infected or fraudulent ads before they reach users’ computers.
“Malvertisments”, that is to say malware-infected ads, present an enormous challenge since they are among the hardest to detect. This is due to the fact that they may pop up only occasionally on a particular site and the majority of websites hosting such malicious ads (six in ten to be precise) are perfectly legitimate web fronts, Symantec data shows. To demonstrate the gravity of the problem, here are some figures from Google: last year, the Internet search giant disabled about 130 million advertisements and banned over 800,000 advertisers for breaching its policy rules. These numbers represent a fivefold surge over a period of three years.