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BPS World Blog

Malvertising - a secret threat undermining your Internet security

Andy Hurley / Technology / Oct 31, 2014 10:18:38 AM

Due to the fact that Internet advertising is currently the single largest media spend, it is unsurprising that it has become of great interest to hackers.

According to the most recent reports from Nielsen (the global information and measurement company), the combined global display advertising of web, mobile internet and applications grew by 32.4% in 2013. This presents advertisers with great opportunities to reach their targets.

Whilst it can be highly tedious for users, Internet advertising is an important mechanism to allow people to freely consume the vast majority of the web. If this situation changed or, even worse, people stopped trusting Internet advertising altogether, the repercussions would be enormous. 

“Malvertising,” is a term for online advertising used to spread malware and is becoming much more of a threat. It is becoming easier for cyber criminals to gain access to the tools they need to launch highly targeted campaigns. Malvertisers who wants to target a specific audience at a certain time, for example, sports fans watching a particular game in a specific country can employ legitimate advertising exchanges to meet their objective. Just like legitimate users, they use companies that are brokers for the ad exchanges. They will pay up front for the advertising and instruct the companies to ensure the ad exchanges to serve the ads as quickly as possible, leaving little time for the content to be examined.

Malvertising victims are infected with malware in the course of their normal Internet browsing, without even clicking on the advertisement, and therefore have no idea where or how they were infected. These attacks on visitors to high-profile, legitimate websites are virtually impossible for the user to detect. Website visitors can be seamlessly redirected to websites which host exploits that the malvertiser has either rented or purchased. These will push a ‘dropper’ program onto users’ systems and infect if vulnerable, which are both stealthy and virtually untraceable.

Security professionals can help to prevent the success of these attacks. Secure web gateways are becoming an increasingly important component of any cyber security strategy. However, conventional secure web gateways only operate at a single point in time and as advanced attacks are multiple, blocking at point of entry isn’t enough. These attacks are ongoing and require continuous scrutiny. When evaluating secure web gateways, security professionals should identify solutions that include checks before, during, and after an attack to ensure more effective protection.

Investing in cyber security has never been more important for businesses and not having the right resource in place can prove to be a very costly mistake, so have you been affected by Malvertising? 

Topics: Technology

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