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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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RE: Meh
By mattclary on 12/13/2010 3:20:56 PM , Rating: 3
I've removed plenty of viruses from machines with UAC enabled.

UAC is just another dialog a stupid user has to click "OK" on in a knee-jerk reaction.

A better protection is Firefox and No Script. IMO, more important than AV.


RE: Meh
By Luticus on 12/13/2010 3:46:43 PM , Rating: 2
UAC is only as useless as a user is stupid. UAC just ensures that whatever runs in an "intended action". Because a vast majority of users out there are basically stupid they'll just click "OK" to make the prompt go away without checking to make sure that it's something that should actually be running. No-script is decent unless you want to run JavaScript and use sites with more advanced technology on them. but hey if you like viewing the web in basic HTML then i guess that's your business.

The absolute best form of security is to read and understand security. Learn how to protect yourself because no matter how much "no script" and "UAC" type things you set up the computer simply can't save you from yourself.

The only way to fix stupid is through education.


RE: Meh
By danobrega on 12/13/2010 4:49:25 PM , Rating: 2
"It seems as though my state-funded math degree has failed me. Let the lashings commence." -- DailyTech Editor-in-Chief Kristopher Kubicki

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