McAfee, Adgregate Take On Malvertisers

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Security software maker McAfee and Adgregate Markets, a provider of distributed e-commerce applications, are teaming up to provide online publishers and advertisers with a new service that will help root out malware-laden ads and bolster online sales.

McAfee's (NYSE: MFE) SECURE service will scan e-tailers' sites for more than 10,000 known vulnerabilities to prevent the kind of malvertising scams that have plagued popular news and entertainment sites, such as the online editions of the New York Times, eWeek and The Drudge Report.

Adgregate brings an extensive distribution ecosystem to the deal, including e-commerce partnerships with the likes of DoubleClick, PointRoll, EyeWonder, Eyeblaster, Demandware and IBM's Websphere Commerce that represent the vast majority of all the rich online media and mobile ads distributed in the U.S.

"The shift towards a distributed Web, where content and commerce are available anywhere, poses significant security challenges for advertisers, as retailers are no longer under the protective umbrella of the security mechanisms enabled on their primary Web site," Todd Gebhart, general manager of McAfee's consumer, mobile and small business group, said in a statement.

"By partnering with Adgregate, McAfee is setting the standard for online advertising security for protecting customers' data and privacy, whether consumers are engaging through rich media ads or transacting through social commerce applications," he added.

McAfee and other security software vendors are predicting drastic increases in malvertising campaigns in 2010 as hackers attempt to get their hands on even a small piece of the $30 billion industry.

McAfee's most recent Threat Predictions report said the widespread availability of rich media advertisements and applications are tempting targets for hackers looking for a highly trafficked host for their malware.

McAfee officials said once a site is scanned and cleared by SECURE, the site's ads will be given a badge from McAfee. The idea is that as visitors stop by sites or see new interactive ads, the McAfee stamp of approval will provide customers with enough confidence to click on the ad and follow through with a purchase directly through the ad.

According to McAfee, sites test-driving the technology have seen a 12 percent increase in sales conversions once their ads were awarded a badge from the SECURE scan.

"The message we are sending to the market today is clear: Advertisers face huge business and legal risks with the distributed Web, and their customers deserve the most secure solution available -- the one now being provided by McAfee and Adgregate," Adgregate CEO Henry Wong said in a statement. "Anything short of this puts a brand’s reputation in serious jeopardy."

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.