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Understanding malicious redirects, landing pages and malvertising

In recent years the advertising industry has been hit with sporadic surges of malicious advertising, also known as Malvertising. These attacks are an industry-wide issue, presenting a real challenge for publishers.

What is a malicious redirect?

A malicious redirect is a piece of code that when placed within a website, redirects visitors to another site. Attackers usually serve redirects to create lead generation; however, some attacks can be much more malicious. For some, these redirects can identify vulnerabilities within the computer and install malware, causing a host of issues. Redirect attacks can span desktop and mobile web publishers, recent attacks have impacted up to 5% of all ads served across specific regions.

Identifying a malicious redirect

The easiest way of detecting malicious redirects is by monitoring the comment section of your website. Users may report being sent to the wrong website when attempting to visit your site. 

*NEW* What are malicious landing page threats?

Often ads may not automatically redirect but still click-through to pages that are deceptive or malicious in nature. These pages can include some form of cloaking to hide fake content, known scams or phishing attempts.

How is this different from clickjacking or redirects?

Although the end-goal may be similar, these do not employ malicious code to force the users to the landing pages. The ads are often benign, conforms to ad policies, and may not even include 3rd party code.

Dealing with malicious redirects and malicious landing page threats

Brand safety is of the utmost importance to Venatus, which is why we proactively block these harmful ads from getting through. Venatus has partnered with the number one global technology business to prevent malicious redirects and landing page threats. Blocking these attacks is essential to maintain brand safety and revenue protection. 

What to do if you think you’re experiencing malicious redirects or malicious landing pages

Although chances are slim, you may see redirects on your own site(s).

If you do experience any redirects, please report them to us at pubops@venatus.com, including the landing URL and a screenshot where possible so that our team can get this blocked. If you can manage to capture a HAR file of the actual redirect this will enable us to block it even quicker.