Our Ongoing Battle Against Malicious Ads
Toward the end of April, deviantART released a community-wide news article that outlined and reaffirmed our stance against advertisements that auto-play audio, contain pop-ups or redirects, and promote virus or malware activity. Three months later, we'd like to provide an update on our efforts to block malicious advertising from running on the site.
We're taking these concerns seriouslyDeviantART takes all concerns on this topic very seriously and immediately implemented a number of changes to reduce the chance those type of ads would get served by our ad partners. These initial steps worked well, and we saw an instant drop in the number of instances and complaints from the community. However, we knew the fight wasn't over, so we've spent the last few months hard at work to build even greater defenses against those who run malicious ads on deviantART and elsewhere. We want to share a few of the initiatives under way, but because those people who spread malicious advertising are pretty savvy, we need to keep much of our work in stealth mode. You'll have to trust us that we're working behind the scenes to fight this issue on numerous fronts.
First...The first major step we took was hiring a third-party company to review our ads on an ongoing basis. This service looks at the ads on our pages and analyzes its source, as well as the ad itself. If the returning ad is anything that could be used to deliver a virus, malware, or evilness to your computer, it's flagged, and deviantART administrators are alerted instantly. Steps are then taken to remove the ad partner responsible for the bad ad, and a full review of how the bad ad made it into the rotation is conducted with the responsible ad partners. This service is a great monitoring and detection tool that should continue to limit malicious ad attacks in the future.
Second...The second step we've taken was to become a member of a trade organization dedicated to preventing these sort of attacks. The Online Trust Alliance is an overarching group of companies dedicated to preventing and fighting all malicious activities that occur on the Web from spam and identification theft, to bank fraud and malvertising. As a member of the O.T.A., deviantART is learning firsthand the scope of the bad ads issue, while also helping to shape industry standards to stamp out many of these threats to all Internet users. DeviantART's involvement in this organization will help us stay at the forefront of bad ad blocking and elimination.
Third...And lastly, Devious Technology has been hard at work on a tool that will better allow us to identify and block ads that auto-play audio. We're really excited about the tool and have been testing it internally. If all continues to go well, we're considering distributing it on a wider basis.
In conclusion...These steps, along with other efforts that are already under way, should create a safer and more enjoyable experience for all deviantART members and visitors. We've made great progress over the past few months, and we'll keep hard at work to ensure a safe and friendly user experience on deviantART.
Devious Technology has created a tool that allows us to better identify and block bad ads. We're currently testing it internally and are considering our options to expand its usage.