“Malvertising” is short for malicious advertising and refers to online advertisements which seek to download malware onto the computer of the viewer. Malvertising campaigns are run similar to normal advertising campaigns, although they are typically more likely to thrive in areas of the Internet where other advertisers don’t bother, such as pornography. In fact, in one relatively recent study, the site xHamster had malware in a significant number of its pages.
The data showed that xhamster – listed by monitoring firm Alexa as the 46th most popular site on the internet – had malvertising on 1,067 out of 20,986 pages (5%) screened in the past 90 days.
More recently, several highly-trafficked porn sites were found to have malware in their advertisements. In many cases, users were not required to do anything at all, just load the page, and malware was automatically installed. When sites transact via credit card, this can be especially troublesome.
However, malvertising is not strictly the realm of porn sites. Any site that runs dynamic advertisements can ultimately be victimized by rogue advertisers on their networks. Sites which run their own advertising platform are less likely to have such problems, but are also something of a rarity.