The responsibility of ad networks

Ad networks are serving up malware. This is a practice known as malvertising. This scenario is becoming more and more common as an infection vector utilizing different exploit kits.

Imagine this. You browse a website. Then you get an infection. The website is one which is well known, in the top 500 websites on the internet, and has been around for years. This website provides you with daily news and traffic reports, weather, you name it. You get an infection from a source you trust and you do not even know it.

Antivirus is ineffective. You now have to deal with it on your own. You may even have to pay a ransom in some cases unless you back up your files.

THIS IS INSANE

You should not have to worry about using the internet on legitimate websites. Advertising networks and those who serve ads on their websites complain about adblocking, however when the only way to prevent an infection is to block ads then you reach an impasse.

ADVERTISING NETWORKS HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO THEIR USERS AND THOSE WHO CHOOSE THEIR NETWORK

It is REPREHENSIBLE to serve up ads which include an infection. The problem is that the ad networks do not even know what is coming in as malware and what is not at the time. The redirect of a redirect points to another redirect etc etc.

SERVING MALWARE ONLY BRANDS AN AD NETWORK AND THE SITES IT SERVES AS AWFUL, IT DOES NOTHING GOOD

However in order to maintain their reputation they need to do more. An automated system which follows all links from a placed ad and then continually does so may be something, or may be a horrible solution. However this is an issue which is becoming a bigger and bigger problem without an end solution in sight.

Something must be done. Otherwise the revenue model of most of the internet will go away when trust is eroded. When the revenue model goes away a new, more horrible revenue model may appear. People may even have to pay their way. Which means only the most compelling websites will make it.

Malvertising and irresponsible advertising networks will do more for the opponents of net neutrality than anyone else. If you fear going to a new website, the only thing left is to use what you know. When you fear even this, you are left with few options.

Something has to change. The reduction of flash usage is a step in the right direction. However this is not enough. The onus is on the websites utilizing advertisers and the advertisers themselves to come up with a solution which meets the needs of their mutual users. Otherwise we’re going to see more and more destruction of trust out there.

 
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