New Report Unveils A Dramatic Increase In Malvertising During 2016

Malvertising is a dark side of internet marketing. The number of pages containing malvertising ads is increased dramatically over the years, especially on mobile devices. Since ad blockers aren’t so prominent in the mobile world, many sites use malvertising to redirect users to pages containing malware, usually followed by obnoxious vibrating notifications.

On the PC, malrvetising is also prominent, mostly with various streaming sites. The malicious ads are usually hidden from the user, mostly in the form of a “pop under” ads that are mostly unnoticed until it’s too late.

2016 saw a dramatic rise of malvertising, with many experts stating that it can only get worse in the coming years. According to the online security firm RiskIQ, malverstising saw a dramatic increase during 2016, rising 132 percent compared to 2015. An average online user sees at least one malvertisement per week, with many users having daily encounters with sites that contain malvertising ads.

Ian Cowger, a RiskIQ security researcher stated that “Every indication that we have is that malvertising is increasing on all fronts.” Cowger explained that malvertising affects “every step in the advertising chain,” and that “each one of them shares the responsibility.”

The results aren’t really bright, and just confirm that malpractice in internet advertising got worse during the last year, and that it will only get more frequent. After analyzing more than 2 billion pages, Risk IQ shared that 1 out of every 250 web pages contains malicious ads.

The most frequent form of fraudulent ads are those “informing” users that their device was infected with a virus and that, for a fee, they can get rid of the virus by installing third-party software or by calling a phone number. The scam tries to get money from uninformed users, and since more and more people are online on a daily basis, with many of them being relatively inexperienced when it comes to online scams, the trend can only rise higher.

Scams (or disingeous ads), along with redirects to phiching sites saw an increase of more than 845 percent, and almost 2000 (yes, two thousand) percent, respectively. The third place is held by fake software scams, which got a year-over-year increase of almost 70 percent.

Image Source: RiskIQ

The best way of fighting malvertising is getting a solid ad blocking software. There are a couple of excellent solutions for PCs, with a couple of solid ones available for Android too. But the problem with ad blockers is that, as they are more prominent, the number of malvertisements also rises. Also, using an ad blocking software will block all ads, even those found on sites you visit on a daily basis, which do not have any malrvertisements.

Fortunately, with the whitelist option every person can create a personal list of sites on which the ad blocking software won’t block ads.

James Pleger, a threat researcher at RiskIQ explained that malvertising is a “direct attack on the lifeblood of the internet as we know it.” Pleger continued by saying that “Digital media marketing is what funds the free websites we all know and enjoy online. The success of the internet and all the people that rely on it is inextricably linked to online advertising success and safety.”


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