August 23, 2023

AdExchanger: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At How Researchers Investigate Government-Backed Malvertising


Nation states exploit programmatic ad tech to attack rival countries. The prevalence of malvertising – the practice of serving ads infected with malware – is both a fact and a growing problem.

The challenge is proving it.

Researchers are often forced to rely on circumstantial evidence to demonstrate that a nation state is behind a malvertising campaign, which can be used to destabilize an enemy’s infrastructure, sow discord during an election or a time of war and serve as a conduit for corporate sabotage.

And malvertising is on the rise.

According to the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), economic uncertainty and the recent slowdown in ad spend has opened the door for malvertisers to purchase more inventory at lower prices. At the same time, hackers are becoming more familiar with programmatic infrastructure, and generative AI will only accelerate the threat of ad-served malware attacks.


“Stopping malvertising is really hard from a law enforcement standpoint,” Lyden said. “Doing so requires the industry to come together and self-regulate.”

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Topics: News