Malvertising continues to pound legitimate websites

In the last three months of 2010 attackers managed to serve 3 million malicious advertising, or malvertising, impressions every day

In the last three months of 2010 attackers managed to serve 3 million malicious advertising, or malvertising, impressions every day. That's the headline figure from a report released today from Web security firm Dasient. According to Dasient, that's a 100 percent increase from the preceding quarter.

Part of the increase may be attributed to Dasient increasing the types of ad networks it tracks. In this report, the firm began tracking so-called remnant advertising networks (networks that sell empty advertising slots at the last opportunity) as part of its study. Because these networks aggregate advertisements and charge a low rate, there is less revenue and possibly less vetting of the safety of advertisements, the report stated.

Also see: 7 reasons websites are no longer safe

"Reputable ad networks also often syndicate or sub-syndicate unsold ad space to remnant ad networks instead of filling them with house ads. With the addition of more remnant ad networks in our telemetry, we believe that we are more accurately reflecting the current state of malvertsing," the report stated.

Last week the real threat of malvertising shook visitors to the London Stock Exchange's Web site. Visitors to the site were hit with ads crafted to display bogus security alerts.

These malicious ads, designed to sell anti-virus software, somehow infiltrated an ad network that is used by the London Stock Exchange. Robert McMillan has more in his report Malware ads hit London Stock Exchange site.

Because of their ease of execution and effectiveness at reaching a broad audience, these attacks aren't expected to stop soon. In fact, according to Elad Sharf, researcher with Websense Security Labs, they're always striving to become even stealthier. With every new cyber attack, criminals custom build malware variants - the malware file goes through extra processing with the aid of tools that are part of the cyber criminal toolkit like packers, obfuscators and encryptors. Because this is custom made and new, the Antivirus detection is very low as would be expected on a new variant, so it can actually run on the user machine if an exploit is successful. Detection rate at the time of the attack is 11 percent according to Virustotal," he said.

What it's like to...

The London Stock Exchange attack also points to another troubling trend in malicious advertising attacks: rather than infiltrate them, criminals are simply buying the ad space needed to propagate their attacks. "We have been following the exploit domains in this malvertising campaign for quite a long time now, and it seems that cyber criminals frequently use fee-based advertising networks to propagate malware - that means cyber criminals are willing to pay in order to propagate malware," Sharf said.

George V. Hulme writes about security and technology from his home in Minneapolis. When he's not clicking on online ads, he can be found on Twitter as @georgevhulme.

Read more about social engineering in CSOonline's Social Engineering section.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwaresocial engineeringsoftwarenetwork securityapplicationsfirewallsapplication securityAccess control and authenticationData Protection | Social EngineeringmalvertisingDasientmalicious websites

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

George V. Hulme

CSO (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?