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Case Study

Top 5 Re-establishes Trust With Visitors After Malvertising Hijacked User Experiences

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Company

Top 5 is a leading review site. As a sizable digital publisher, the company provides consumer insights in the form of slideshows, comparisons, and ratings, and site traffic is monetized through the use of digital ads. The company’s revenue is directly connected to traffic volume and visitor behavior on the site.

- Doug Jones

CTO of Top 5
“Within hours, we were ahead of what was causing our issues. I do that on the front and backdoor of every website. Why would I not be doing it on every ad tag or revenue earning opportunity within the system?”

- Doug Jones

CTO of Top 5
“I know that bad actors are always trying to find an exploit: they try to find permission on a file that we forgot, find a login where somebody didn’t pick a good password. Things that I can’t always be responsible for but are exploits that I will be held responsible for when the site stops earning or stops producing.”

- Doug Jones

CTO of Top 5
“We’re gonna get hacked. The question is, what are the different layers we can put in place to make it as difficult, unwieldy, and unfriendly to hack? It’s the citadel approach. We put as many hills and valleys as possible between hackers and the target." 
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Challenge

What tipped Top 5 off to its malvertising problem were troubling numbers for many key metrics. Unexpected revenue and traffic slumps were connected not only to a specific date and time but to specific positions within the site. When no technical issues or malware could be found, it became apparent these issues were caused by intrusive ads that were redirecting users.

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Solution

Top 5 implemented Malvertising Defense, which uses behavioral analysis to eliminate malicious ad redirects while ensuring publishers still retain ad revenue. Unlike traditional malvertising solutions that prevent or intercept bad ads before bad actors pay for their ad impressions, Malvertising Defense stops third-party code on the client side and in real time. This means: 
  • No Reduction in Ad Revenue: Malvertising Defense stops malicious ad behavior, while still allowing the ad creative to render Malvertisers still have to pay for impressions, so both ad revenue and UX remain intact.
  • No Maintenance: Malvertising Defense integrates into any stack within minutes, and blocks malicious ads more effectively than other solutions, with no manual intervention required.
  • Future Proof Protection: Unlike blocklisting solutions, Malvertising Defense’s behavioral analysis keeps publishers protected even as new threats enter the ecosystem.

RESULTS

Top 5 deployed Malvertising Defense quickly and easily via a simple line of JavaScript on its site. Once up and running, Malvertising Defense immediately put a stop to malvertising and ad redirects. Now, the team at Top 5 doesn’t give a second thought to malvertising, and it has become a non-issue for their site.

If user complaints ever arise, the Top 5 team checks the dashboard retroactively for disruptions, but the system doesn’t require any regular monitoring. Malvertising Defense prevents malvertising in real time, shoring up site security and protecting the user experience.

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