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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 -- one letter away from, 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, the malicious javascript is served from (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 banners, including for example (using DoubleClick),, (using both), and 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 stmok on 12/13/2010 7:30:40 PM , Rating: 2
Spivonious says (in that long thread)...

It only automatically installs something if you're dumb enough to turn off UAC or are running a 10 year-old OS. While it is surprising that this got through both Google's and MS's filters, it shouldn't have much of an impact on users.

Firstly, UAC does NOT help you if the malware does not use Administrator privileges. (And it turns out one can write malware to execute and run in Standard privileges, then chain it to a privilege escalation vulnerability in a Windows component; in order to side-step UAC.) ...All the user has to do, is be tricked into running an executable. This is exactly what this malware does! It puts the executables in the user's Temp folder. (Where you have read/write/execution access.)

Secondly, one of the security issues it exploits is 9 months old.
(It means it'll affect Windows 7 with IE8 if you don't keep your system up-to-date!)

Thirdly, malware like these are only effective on those who:

(1) Don't keep their systems updated.
(That includes third-party components like Java and Adobe Reader.)

(2) Don't know about Software Restriction Policy (SRP) or AppLocker .
(Which allows you to deny all executables except the ones in Windows , Program Files , or the files/folders you specify...Its unfortunate that its full capabilities aren't in all Windows versions as standard. Only in Professional/Business/Ultimate versions.)

(3) Are unfamiliar with social engineering.
(Tricks to get people to run crafted executables.)

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer
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