RiskIQ’s Q2 Malvertising Roundup: More Malvertising, New Tactics

RiskIQ’s Q2 Malvertising Roundup: More Malvertising, New Tactics

September 12, 2017, Andrew Geiger

Worldwide, malvertising continues to rise. In Q2 2017, RiskIQ scanned 18.65% more advertisements containing a blacklisted incident—phishing, scams, exploit kits, and malware—than Q1, continuing a trend highlighted in our 2016 report, which found a 132% increase in total malvertising in 2016 over 2015.

Malvertising has consistently risen since programmatic advertising gained popularity, but what’s interesting is how the type of malvertising fluctuates quarter to quarter. According to RiskIQ detections, the total amount of malware in advertisements decreased by 42.73% from Q1, along with a 24.21% drop in exploit kits. In fact, exploit kits have been on the decline for the entire year.

In our Q2 malvertising roundup, RiskIQ shows 18.65% more advertisements containing a blacklisted incident—phishing, scams, EKs, and malware—than Q1.

Total Malvertisements in Q2 2017

However, while malware and exploit kits dropped, there was a 131.36% rise in phishing-related advertisements, marking a shift in tactics. Attackers seem to be placing less emphasis on dropping malware on unsuspecting victims and more on tricking them into clicking on deceptive ads that may lead to pages requesting sensitive data. In 2016, RiskIQ saw a massive increase in phishing malvertising, identifying 1,978% more incidents over 2015.

Meanwhile, our data shows a 36% drop in scams (disingenuous advertising), but it continues to be a favorite tactic of threat actors—RiskIQ detected well over a million incidents in Q2. We also detected 845.9% more scams in 2016 than 2015, and with good reason: threat actors like NoTrove, which we profiled in April, drive immense amounts of valuable traffic to their sites via vast scam networks. Their fraudulent landing pages (take a survey to win a free PlayStation!), are often ignored by typical malvertising detection methods because of the gray nature of their payloads but can grow to enormous sizes and degrade the quality of the internet.

Malvertising is so nefarious because it’s a direct attack on the lifeblood of the internet as we know it. Partly fueled by the looming threat of malvertising, ad blocking in the U.S. will continue to temper the growth of digital advertising. According to eMarketer, ad blocking will grow by double digits. In 2016, 69.8 million Americans were expected to use an ad blocker, an increase of 34.4% over last year. In 2017, that figure is projected to grow by another 24%, to 86.6 million people.

To combat this problem, RiskIQ scans over 2 billion pages and nearly 20 million mobile apps per day, resulting in a curated blacklist of malicious ads from across the internet. This proprietary list sets RiskIQ apart, enabling customers to vet new demand sources and prevent malware within their ad infrastructure. RiskIQ is unique in that our crawling infrastructure allows us to capture the entire ad redirect chain and creative sources, which indicate which part of the ad-serving process was compromised, and helps us identify the entity responsible for the threat.

Learn more about how RiskIQ can proactively scan and track ads as they traverse the supply chain so you can empower your team to take immediate action to identify and remove malicious malvertisement hosts and advertisers from
 your network or publisher website, minimizing the threat to your end users.

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