In a way, it is advertisements that sustain the free internet. Paradoxically, the same advertisements threaten the safety of the internet.
Advertisements bring in much needed revenue to websites, without which only a handful of websites, and no website in the social media, can sustain themsleves. However, it is through such advertisements that cyber criminals lure victims to make that false click which would redirect the website to a malware infected website and download spyware, Trojan, or malware of varying hues. Even without malware, false advertisements lure website visitors into financial scams, purchase of counterfeit goods and other frauds. To gain perspective of the size of badware out in the open, last year (2011) Google disabled more than 130 million ads and banned 800,000 advertisers for violating policies and promoting ads that carry malware or sell counterfeit goods.
Firewalls and other security layers have so far met with only limited success in blocking malware. Even individual web service providers by themselves cannot do much, as even when Google blocks such badware, the badware perpetuators simply move elsewhere. The formation of the “AdIntegrity Allaince” is a realization of this fact and the first step towards a coordinated industry wide effort to stop the badware menace. The Alliance, promoted by “StopBadware” is just recently launched and has among others the New York based Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and prominent web players such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and AOL as its members.
StopBadware is actively working to share information regarding malware among websites, service providers and software developers. The AdIntegrity alliance similarly plans to share best practices, recommendations and information among members and also coordinate closely with law enforcement agencies.