A growing trend of embedding malicious ads within the images of ads could wreak havoc on the advertising industry and cost brands millions this year, reports Digital News Daily, which added that the practice, “known as steganography, makes images the new frontier for malicious ads. It conceals a file, message, image, or video within another file, message, image, or video, according to GeoEdge.

“The research suggests that not every publisher’s security provider monitors and analyzes images for malicious code. This creates an opportunity to exploit the potential vulnerability in the embedded images in ads running on publisher sites and in-app.

“GeoEdge, which provides ad security and verification software, noticed an increase of incidents earlier this year through the company’s technology, but the number of incidents has grown exponentially during the fourth quarter of 2018.

“In one example of Experian’s ad, GeoEdge identified a second image that is unseen to those viewing the ad on a desktop or mobile device. The ad, hidden inside the ad request, calls up the embedded malicious code. In this instance, the malicious code was an auto-redirect to a phishing site targeting U.S. users.”

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