In association with heise online

19 June 2009, 11:08

New Google service helps find dodgy advertisers

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Google's new Anti-Malvertising service is intended to help detect dodgy advertisers who attempt to infect visitors to legitimate websites using specially crafted banner ads or pop-ups. All major websites face the problem of checking the background and integrity of their advertising agencies. A virus-distributing Flash banner loaded from an external server has the potential to put thousands of users at risk – or harass visitors with nagware.

Google's service is intended to help users find out whether advertisers or advertising agencies have previous black marks against their names. It searches a range of independent websites from other web companies, service providers and security specialists dealing with the distribution of malware or advertising for specific terms, domain names, URLs, etc.

The more hits a suspect URL gets, the higher the probability there's something amiss with it. The results are, however, intended only as a pointer for further research before coming to a decision. Entering 'heise', The H's associated publication in Germany, for example, shows up a large volume of hits solely because other security sites often link to articles on heise Security.

Conversely, entering 'traffalo' shows lots of results containing warnings about the domain This domain was involved with a crafted banner ad which attempted to infect visitors to heise Online with unwanted software in early 2008.

Determining whether or not search results reveal the truth, or are actually relevant to the problem at hand, is up to the advertising manager at the portal in question – indeed a quick phone call may sometimes be a quicker way of shedding light on the issue.

More information on using the site and recognising dodgy advertisers is provided in the tips and recommendations section on the site.

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