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Malvertisements (malicious advertisements) have been a bane of advertising networks the world over. Sleazy malware distributors try to place malicious ads onto legitimate advertising networks using all kinds of tricks (one blogger has made a specialty of tracking all these malicious ads).

Advertising networks (the people who sell all those ads you see on various websites) sometimes have a difficult time figuring out if an ad is legitimate. They can use online tools to check an ad, like Adopstools, or use services like the Sunbelt Sanbox or ClickFacts, but they should also do other background checks.

Enter Google, with a neat specialized search tool called, appropriately, “malvertising research”. The site, available at, allows advertisers (or anyone else, for that matter) to search for issues relating to malvertisements, and to conduct background checks.


According to Google’s Eric Davis, it’s admittedly a modest tool, and only indexes a small, focused group of sites that track activity in this space (my blog and Sandi Hardmeier’s, for example). However, it is useful in a) helping ad network customers conduct quick background checks on prospective partners and b) helping security researchers and troubleshooters learn more about parties that may be involved in malvertising threats.

This is the first iteration. They will continue to update and refine the search engine. Feel free to drop a comment in this blog if you have any suggestions, feedback, or other sites that should be added to the search engine.

Alex Eckelberry