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Google's DoubleClick and Microsoft's MSN were found to be offering up malicious ads.  (Source: Armorize)
Whoops, sorry guys... those ads were actually malware

Google's advertising subsidiary DoubleClick and Microsoft’s MSN ads service both have admitted to falling for a clever scheme by some nasty black hat hackers.  Malicious banner ads for both services were found to be trying to perform drive-by download exploitation and install malware on users' machines. 

As with many great (or terrible) episodes of computer crime, a key component was clever social engineering.  Hackers created a site called ADShufffle.com -- one letter away from ADShuffle.com, a major online advertising technology firm.  Apparently that was enough to get the ads through screeners at Microsoft and Google. 

Security firm Armorize appears to be the first to have noticed the attack.  Wayne Huang chief technology officer of Armorize details the unusual incident in a blog, writing:

Users visit websites that incorporate banner ads from DoubleClick or rad.msn.com, the malicious javascript is served from ADShufffle.com (notice the three f's), starts a drive-by download process and if successful, HDD Plus and other malware are installed into the victim's machine, without having the need to trick the victim into doing anything or clicking on anything. Simply visiting the page infects the visitors. 

Known sites affected: Sites that incorporate DoubleClick or rad.msn.com banners, including for example Scout.com (using DoubleClick), realestate.msn.com, msnbc.com (using both), and mail.live.com. We'd like to note here it's very possible that multiple exchanges, besides those listed here, have been serving the fake ADShufffle's ads.

For all its ingenuity, the attackers used pretty standard exploitation packages, including Neosploit and the Eleonore exploit kit.  Both kits are popular among black hat hackers, but also among security experts who purchase them to battle-test the security of corporate systems.

The latest attack used Javascript exploits to begin a download procedure, which was triggered when users visited a page that was serving the compromised banner ads.  The ad service would then request the code for the ad from the hackers' servers, initiating the attack.  

A Google spokesperson assured that the ads were only up for a very brief time and have since been terminated.  The company is now investigating the incident.  Microsoft did not release a statement, but likely is taking similar measures.

The incident is not Google's first brush with malware advertising.  Previously malicious hackers were found to be leveraging Google's AdWords service.  In that case, as well, the key to the criminals' success was using legitimate-looking links.



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Ad Blockers
By DaftDev on 12/13/2010 1:53:15 PM , Rating: 3
This is the #1 reason to use ad blockers in my opinion. Most ads by themselves aren't that annoying (and I do whitelist sites that I visit often), but I don't trust these ad networks to not serve malware.




RE: Ad Blockers
By Luticus on 12/13/2010 2:02:48 PM , Rating: 2
for me, if the add isn't anything more than a simple jpg or at the most a gif... it's not playing. I hate multimedia adds. don't trust them to be "legit" and they are usually annoying and pop stuff up all over my screen or play some audio, etc.


RE: Ad Blockers
By knedle on 12/14/2010 4:10:56 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, playing audio is so cool, especially when you're browsing Internet at 3AM and suddenly you hear some loud commercial noise from your speaker. Everyone loves that. ;)


RE: Ad Blockers
By greylica on 12/13/2010 2:04:38 PM , Rating: 2
And one more reason to have back ''Do not track tool...'' to Mozzila Firefox in the list...


RE: Ad Blockers
By plupien79 on 12/13/2010 4:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
Yet another thumbs up for AdBlock and Ghostery


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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