Malware campaign inflated views of pro-Russia videos

The botnet behind it was also designed to fraudulently view Web ads en masse

Trustwave's researchers found a botnet that inflated views on pro-Russian videos as well as fraudulently increased views on ads placed on specially-designed web pages.

Trustwave's researchers found a botnet that inflated views on pro-Russian videos as well as fraudulently increased views on ads placed on specially-designed web pages.

A botnet designed for Web advertising fraud was also used to nudge up the number of views of some pro-Russian videos on the website DailyMotion, according to security vendor Trustwave.

An investigation into what appeared to be strictly ad fraud turned out to have a surprising political angle, wrote Rami Kogan of Trustwave's SpiderLabs, in a blog post on Thursday.

"We can't know for sure who's behind the fraudulent promotion of video clips, but it appears to be politically motivated," he wrote.

Using botnets to inflate the number of views on videos isn't new, but Kogan wrote "this is the first time we've observed the tactic used to promote video clips with a seemingly political agenda."

One of the videos promoted Russia's position on Crimea, which it forcibly annexed from Ukraine last year. Others also dealt with Russian political and military issues, although some had no Russia connection. The videos appear to have been removed from DailyMotion now.

In early April, the Guardian wrote of an office in St. Petersburg whose employees are paid to write pro-Russian messages on forums and social media sites.

All of the videos had around 320,000 views each but weren't widely shared on Twitter or even commented on, Kogan wrote.

Computers that visited the videos were infected with a trojan called Bedep. Some people were infected after they visited a tourism website that hosted Angler, a so-called exploit kit that tries to find software vulnerabilities on a computer in order to deliver malware.

The Bedep malware was programmed to create a hidden virtual desktop on a victim's computer and runs a fully-featured Internet Explorer instance, Kogan wrote. Users would be unaware of what was going on in the background.

Bedep also caused that hidden browser to navigate to custom-made websites stuffed with advertisements in order to increase ad impressions.

"The objective of ad fraud is to generate fake traffic to ads and receive compensation based on traffic volume," Kogan wrote. "Obviously, more compromised computers leads to more traffic directed to the ads which leads to more revenue for the fraudster."

Some of the infected computers then appear to have been directed to websites hosting other exploit kits such as Neutrino and Magnitude, loading yet more malware.

Those controlling Bedep "are trying to maximize their profit by selling traffic from compromised computers to other campaigners that seek to spread their own malware via Magnitude and Neutrino," Kogan wrote.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags trustwavesecurity

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?