Malvertising increased 133% from 2015 – ad blockers threaten mobile advertising ecosystem

Anne Freier

In Mobile Advertising

February 1, 2017


Source RiskIQ

Malvertising has increased by 133% over 2015, according to the latest annual malvertising report from digital threat management firm RiskIQ.
The increase is likely due to the growth of programmatic advertising which has seen the emergence of more sophisticated profiles that can be used to malvertise and target precise groups of users. It is precisely this targeting that makes malvertising so lucrative.
eMarketer predicts that ad spending worldwide will hit $674bn by 2020. However, the latest RiskIQ report finds that malvertising will be minimising some of that growth.
As users are becoming more aware of the threat, they employ ad blockers which in turn eat into ad revenues. In 2016, around 70 million Americans were using an ad blocker. That’s 34.4% more than in 2015. This year, that figure is expected to grow by 24% to 87 million people.
Malvertising remains hard to detect, which makes it all the harder to identify. Malverts are also being delivered through Google and Facebook.
RiskIQ offers a curated blacklist of malicious ads that scans over two billion pages and 20 million mobile apps each day. Security managers are able to access this source to find new demand sources and prevent malware within their own infrastructures.
The company even provides an advanced crawling infrastructure to capture ads, ad redirect chains and creative sources and highlights which parts of the ad serving process may be compromised. In providing a service that can also detect the newest threat, the company utilises a machine learning technology – something it calls ‘representation learning’ – that allows it to teach its system what a threat looks like.
James Pleger, Director of Threat, RiskIQ, explains:

“Malvertising is so nefarious because it’s a direct attack on the lifeblood of the internet as we know it. 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. Publishers, ad platforms, and ad operations teams need active visibility, forensic information, and mitigation capability to enable them to effectively detect and respond to malicious ads in the wild.”