Ad Scammers Getting Harder To Spot

from the reasons-to-use-adblock dept

When we’ve discussed adblockers in the past, one important point that many people have raised is the growing likelihood of scammers “buying” ads as a method of distributing malware through popular sites. Apparently, that business of “malvertising” is getting more and more popular… and more and more sophisticated. Joshin4colours points us to a story about a super sophisticated “malvertiser” who went to great lengths to appear legit. In another discussion about that case, it’s suggested that somewhere around 50% of “self-service” advertising setups may be part of some kind of scam. I’m not sure I quite believe that number, but if the number is even half of that, it does raise questions about how online ad buying and ad placement works, and how it will work in the future. Perhaps this will finally drive companies who insist on banner ads, rather than more effective forms of advertising/marketing, to rethink their position.

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Comments on “Ad Scammers Getting Harder To Spot”

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BruceLD says:


The recent PDF vulnerability with all Apple iPhone/Touch/iPad devices where a complete system hack can be performed with no interaction whatsoever makes this particular threat even more frightening.

The malvertisers only need to change their scripts so that the major web sites are peppered with the PDF exploit, and within 24 hours they will control 100 million Apple devices around the world.

I wonder whose going to hit first; Apple or the hackers?;content

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No biggie

NoScript is too hard to use for most users (quick: NoScript shows five domains for this site, which ones are safe to unblock? And how can you recognize something is broken on a site because of NoScript, instead of just being a quirk of the site?).

Adblock Plus with Easylist is easier (almost completely zero-maintenance, even for newbies, and easylist blocks more than merely ads), but weaker (as it is blacklist-based, it can only deal with known threats).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No biggie

(quick: NoScript shows five domains for this site, which ones are safe to unblock? And how can you recognize something is broken on a site because of NoScript, instead of just being a quirk of the site?).

Quicker: Leave them all blocked and the site functions perfectly well.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Interesting Article

While I don’t claim to fully understand what they seem to mean by “tags” and “pixels”, I did get the bits about 1) cross-checking the provided phone number against the bank’s website, and 2) checking the date of registration of domains, both those of the customer and of their references. Worth including as SOP in future.

JMG (aka Joshin4colours) says:

Ads aren't the problem

Before people start saying “See? Ads are destroying the interwebz!!11”, just remember that credit card scams are just as common (if not more so) and people still use credit cards all over the place. The problem isn’t the online advertising medium, it’s the fact that there are still ways to exploit the system and the fact that consumers need to be better informed. Online advertising can work effectively, but like other advertising, has to be done smartly. There is still plenty of growth to be seen in the online advertising/media space, with some innovation and a bit of elbow grease.

direwolff (profile) says:

Re: Ads aren't the problem

JMG, being informed doesn’t seem to help since this exploit is so prevalent for all iOS devices. Same with credit card exploits. Knowing there are scammers doesn’t help matters as they’re pretty good at hiding their tracks by choosing exploits that not obvious, or attacking weak points in the chain (ie. merchant who has not properly configured and secured their servers w/latest updates).

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