Ad Tech Players Agree to Comply With Anti-Malware Measures

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An ad industry watchdog has launched an anti-malware program as it tries to combat criminals who infect the online advertising ecosystem.

The Trustworthy Accountability Group, a trade group that formed to fight fraud in digital advertising, will now offer a certification program for ad networks that take steps to weed out malware. Malware is software that can spread through ads and infect people's computers, turning them toward nefarious purposes.

On Tuesday, the group announced that ad tech companies like Google, AppNexus, MediaMath, RocketFuel, The Rubicon Project and others would coordinate more closely to combat malware in advertising.

"We all have a shared goal, which is to clean up the ecosystem," said Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG.

To get the certification, the ad tech companies will have to scan a "reasonable percentage" of their ad inventory to search for malware, according to the announcement.

For now, TAG still operates on the honor system, and it's up to the ad platforms to ensure they abide by the guidelines.

TAG is hoping to implement more independent verification as it progresses, Mr. Zaneis said. "Self-policing is still very important," he added.

The group has had success fighting piracy, keeping tens of millions of dollars off sites that traffic in pirated content, Mr. Zaneis said.

The ad platforms share intel on what sites they discover to be using tactics related to piracy, and then try to purge them from the ecosystem. It's these kinds of shared resources that have an impact, Mr. Zaneis said.

For the latest initiative, the companies will share information to a new hub that reports threats of malware among each other and with law enforcement, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

The trade group said that malware was its final area of focus after having developed programs in fraud, piracy and brand safety. The group has developed seals of approval for the networks to show when they commit to make progress in these categories.

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