Feeds

Ad networks owned by Google, Microsoft serve malware

Javascript obfuscation

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Two of the world's biggest ad serving networks – one owned by Google and the other by Microsoft – have been caught delivering booby-trapped banner ads that infect computers with malware without any action required on the part of the end user.

The ads on Google's DoubleClick and Microsoft's rad.msn.com contained heavily obfuscated javascript in an attempt to conceal the attack, according to an analysis by web security firm Armorize. As a result, people surfing to Scout.com, MSNBC.com and other sites that relied on the ad platforms were surreptitiously attacked by malicious code that in many cases was able to install malware without any warning.

Among the titles silently thrust on marks was HDD Plus, a piece of malware that falsely claims users have serious system errors that can only be fixed by buying a premium version of the program. The tainted banner ads used code from the Eleonore and Neosploit crimeware kits to exploit at least seven previously patched vulnerabilities in applications such as Adobe Reader, Oracle's Java, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

The attacks are only the latest to get past gatekeepers at DoubleClick and other large networks, which are used by smaller websites to deliver ads. In September 2009 a torrent of malicious ads flooded DoubleClick, Yahoo's Right Media and FastClick, a platform owned by ValueClick. Over the past few years there have been at least half a dozen similar breaches. An ad platform is a huge advantage to malware attackers because it allows them to get their exploits in front of potentially millions of people who have no reason to believe they're under threat.

In the attack documented by Armorize, the miscreants appear to have tricked account managers with the use of ADShufffle.com, a domain that fed the malicious banners. The address was designed to look to AdShuffle.com, which regularly works with ad platforms.

“We can confirm that the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, which has automatic malware filters, independently detected several creatives containing malware, and blocked them instantly - within seconds,” a Google spokesman said in an email. “Our security team is in touch with Armorize to help investigate and help remove any affected creatives from any other ad platforms.”

The email didn't say how the tainted ads got carried on DoubleClick or how similar attacks could be prevented in the future.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company is investigating the report. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.