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Digital Spy fights second malware attack

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Updated Celebrity and TV gossip website Digital Spy has confirmed reports that its subscribers outside the UK have been exposed to malware. The latest reported outbreak follows an earlier malware infestation, later traced to tainted banner ads, that hit the site only six weeks ago.

Digital Spy is a high-traffic website frequented by surfers gorging on information about celebrity shenanigans and reality TV programmes. As with the previous attack, news that the site might be serving up malware surfaced via posts on Digital Spy's forum.

Subscribers reported warnings from their anti-virus scanner and hijacked connections, re-routing them via dating sites, among other examples of weird behaviour.

In response, Digital Spy issued a statement explaining that untoward content had been served up to US And Australian visitors but was now blocked. It said that the attack stemmed from an advertising exchange and was not confined to Digital Spy alone.

Our advertising operations team were able to successfully reproduce the issues raised by three of our visitors from America and Australia and put into place our new procedures to shut the malware-infected creatives down immediately.

We have been informed by our advertising exchange supplier that other websites operating in these territories experienced the same problem. This attack was, sadly, not confined to Digital Spy.

We are taking this incident, which did not affect our UK traffic, extremely seriously.

Digital Spy is a global website and our international business is very important to us. We expect the same guarantees of safety for UK and non-UK visitors alike and are appalled that despite the implementation of all practical safeguards within our own procedures - which resulted in a swift removal of the problem from our pages - a third party was able to attack us for a second time.

We are instituting a full review of our advertising arrangements and are engaging with the advertising industry, as a global publisher, to find a solution to this worldwide problem.

Attacks such as these have the potential to harm users, publishers and advertisers alike, damaging the internet's entire content delivery ecosystem. They must not be permitted to continue.

Digital Spy users were last exposed to malware via malicious banner ads that appeared in early June in an attack ultimately geared towards distributing rogue security software (AKA scareware). The site pledged to change its procedures following the incident. It's fair to say the site responded far more promptly to concerns in its forums this time around. Nonetheless, the latest incident still raises troubling questions about the overall security of the site. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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