Viruses and malware are an issue for anyone who uses a computer, but they can be particularly problematic for online publishers with ad serving on their websites. It is not uncommon for a malicious piece of code to be installed in an ad, wreaking havoc on your own system, as well as on those who click on that ad on your site. As a publisher, it is your responsibility to ensure that you only display ads that are safe to view and click, which means taking the proper steps to manage what gets seen. Here are a few tips to help you steer clear of malicious ads.
Update your back-end software
There is a very important reason why web software, like WordPress for your site or Apache for your web server, are continually updated and upgraded. It’s not just to make them more appealing to users or to add more features. Older versions of software often have little holes that can be exploited by hackers and those who want to spread viruses. Those security exploits are fixed with each new update, so be sure that you are always using the latest version of everything.
Update your front-end software
The same rules apply with the software that you use every single day, which includes your web browser and operating system. While it may seem like a chore to have your OS updated and your system restarted on a regular basis, it is done for your own protection, as well as for the protection of your clients. If your computer is hacked and expose your password for the website’s admin area, the hacker can change your site with that password.
Know your advertisers
It is never a good idea to accept a new advertiser and their ads without first knowing a little bit about them and what they have to offer. This is not just to ensure that what they are advertising is suitable and relevant for your site, but also that the ads they send are free from malicious content.
Know your ad partners
Many publishers nowadays do not have their own advertisers. Instead, they get the ads from an ad network or ad exchange. It’s an easy way to get ads on your site, but it can also be a quick way to get malicious content if you choose an bad ad vendor and don’t do your due diligence. Find out all you can about the ad networks and exchanges including their reputation and security policies.
Run regular security checks
Even if you are careful and have followed all the steps previously mentioned, there is still a chance that something bad can slip through the cracks. Perform regular security checks or, if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, subscribe to a security monitoring service, which is a very smart investment.
Have an emergency plan in place
There are several things that you can do here including regular backups, a notification system or plan to alert your clients of the situation, and a step-by-step recovery plan that can be implemented to get your site back up and running with minimal downtime. This is something that you should have ready even if you don’t run any advertising on your website.
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