Feeds

Worm automates Google AdSense fraud

Click-fraud menace spreads using IM

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Virus writers have crafted a malware threat that serves up expensive Google AdSense web pages related to mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Industry workers affected by the disease have launched a series of lawsuits, a factor that means "ambulance chasing" lawyers pay through the nose to get a mention when searches for the term "mesothelioma" are made. The cost-per-click for the term "mesothelioma" is among the highest in the online ads business ranging from $4 to $13 and higher on various keyword bidding networks.

This, in turn, makes the term a prime target for click-fraud. Google AdSense allows online publishers to make revenue by displaying Google ads relevant to the content of their site. Because Google pays the host Web site based on the number of clicks on their ads, the process can be susceptible to "click-fraud".

The KMeth worm, which targets Yahoo! Messenger users, directs infected users to a web site serving a barrage of Google AdSense advertisements related to mesothelioma. Financially-motivated malware writers apparently hope to cash on the ruse through shares in the resulting advertising commissions which we doubt will materialise. Fraud detection mechanisms employed by Google are more than likely to identify rogue sites generating suspiciously high returns using such illicit tactics but that doesn't eliminate the other security risks consumers face from the worm.

KMeth exploits IE vulnerabilities to infect surfers who visit malware infested sites controlled by hackers, promoted through IM messages sent to the Yahoo! Messenger contacts of infected users. The "status message" in Yahoo! Messenger can also be also hijacked, presenting potentially enticing messages to their contacts, such as "check out my blog" in order to trick potential marks into becoming infected, IM security firm FaceTime reports.

Meanwhile an infected user's IM control panel is disabled, and their home page is hijacked to point towards rogue web sites designed to generate maximum revenue through click fraud. Using malware to perpetrate click-fraud is an established technique but the KMeth worm extends this idea by employing a battery of social engineering techniques.

"Typically, financially-driven malware attacks use botnets to fraudulently increase traffic to specific online advertisements," said Chris Boyd, director of malware research for FaceTime Security Labs. "In this case, the hackers have cleverly borrowed tactics from botnet-creators to create a bot-less network of hijacked PC users to drive traffic to sites populated with these specific Google AdSense advertisements. Introducing the human factor into the scenario makes these 'bot-less nets' much more difficult to detect."

A full write-up of the threat can be found on FaceTime's security research blog here. ®

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?