Addressing the Malvertising Trend of Malicious Cloned Sites, GeoEdge Becomes the First Ad Security Solution to Block Ads leading to Cloned Sites to Protect Publishers and Users 1

Research from ad security provider GeoEdge has found that malicious content has become the fastest growing tactic for malicious advertising in 2020, accounting for 50% of all malicious advertising today.

Why? Malicious advertisers are the most performance-driven marketers in the world, and nefarious content is six times more effective than auto-redirect ads. Malicious advertisers can buy a cloned website template for a few dollars and use IP addresses to more effectively target users. And COVID-19 has given malicious advertisers new opportunities to generate revenue from content.

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It seems like malicious advertisers have hired Chief Marketing Officers to upgrade their content marketing.

To address the shift to content-driven malvertising, GeoEdge becomes the first ad security solution to offer publishers and platforms a way to block serving any ad leading to a landing page from a malicious cloned website in real-time. By blocking these ads leading to cloned websites, GeoEdge eliminates the threat of malicious ad attacks before a user is exposed to the ad.

According to Photon Research, a template for a cloned site for some of the biggest online brands starts are $2-3, while a cloned e-commerce site page will cost $20.43 and a cloned banking site page costs $67.91.

Malicious cloned websites are generating losses due to malicious advertising. In the UK, cloned websites have appeared in 2020 for HSBC, the world’s 7th largest bank (and the largest in Europe), and mortgage lender Paragon Bank. Even the Financial Conduct Authority, the organization responsible for regulating the finance industry in the United Kingdom, had its website cloned in July 2020. Banking industry regulator UK Finance found that the number of people who have fallen victim to investment scams from cloned and illegitimate sites increased 152% in 2019, and that number is undoubtedly growing in 2020. These efforts have resulted in millions of Dollars/Pounds of losses, according to the Investment Association, the trade body for UK asset managers.

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Cloned media websites enable malicious marketers to benefit from the fake legitimacy of the content next to which their ads appear. The low cost and the better marketing environment of cloned media websites have resulted in cloned versions of the “Today” show, CNBC, Fox News, Forbes, BBC, El Mundo and Zeit Online.

With the run-up to the US presidential elections, GeoEdge expects an increase in the number of cloned news websites. According to research from GeoEdge, 89% of publishers are serving deceptive ads, with 42% of those dealing with user complaints, while 20% are forced to contend with a loss in revenue or subscribers.

With the average user seeing around 5000 online ads daily, and one in 5000 ads leading to a malicious cloned site, most users are exposed to a malicious cloned site every day.

“In today’s world, where cyber meets social engineering, malicious advertisers have raised their game, adding the marketing sophistication of a trained CMO as they lure unsuspecting users into their malvertising scams,” said Amnon Siev, CEO, GeoEdge. “That’s why we’ve upgraded our real-time advanced malware detection technology offering to include the ability to block any ads leading to cloned websites as a way to keep our publishing partners and their users safe and free of ‘fake news’.”

In today’s malicious world, where targeting content-based click scams are on the rise, intensified thanks to COVID-19, GeoEdge provides publishers with a proprietary technology solution for the new challenge of cyber meeting social engineering. From content-based analysis of deceptive ads to deep landing page analysis and beyond, GeoEdge addresses the new kinds of malicious attacks facing publishers, their supply-side partners, and their unsuspecting users today. As the trusted advisor for Ad Security, for over a decade, GeoEdge has been helping online publishers and platforms to maximize their ad revenue while protecting their brand, their advertising partners, and their users.

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