A new scam that uses old tricks is turning into a serious epidemic as hackers and spammers have found new avenues of spreading malware by the use of ad networks. While the new scam remains to be the use of ad networks to propagate malicious adverts that are laced with malware, an older tactic is starting to appear where hackers start posing as media agencies once again.
In a recent event that took place last week, sites within the Gawker Media network such as the popular gadget blog Gizmodo, were served up fake Suzuki adverts that lead computer users to some unwanted sites that were found to install malware. What left the group of Gawker Media employees in the dark was how malicious ads appeared on their sites. Their site was not hacked into nor was it compromised by any type of computer parasite. It was something that had to do with the ad network.
The ad agency, Sparks SMG, a division of Publics Groupe, is a legitimate ad company that the Gawker Media network uses for some of their ads. The breakdown that resulted in the malicious ads appearing on Gizmodo was in fact a result of impostors who used similar email addresses of the well known ad network. Basically, the scammers had enough knowledge of Sparks’ clients and the way online advertising works to trick Gawker employees.
By posing as buyers for ad spots, online scammers are able to run ads on legitimate sites. Because the ads from the scammers look legitimate in appearance, it usually takes the site operators days before they realize that they are not legitimate. Usually web publishers do not go around clicking on their own ads or they would be penalized, however, there are ways to ensure the ads are not “mistreating” site visitors.
The online community is taking note of Gawkers unfortunate online ad mishap that was not their fault. Scammers are using a few old tactics while at the same time they have new tricks up their sleeves to spread their malware through the use of malvertising or malicious online ads. If you run a website that utilizes ad networks, then you should take heed and be assured that your adverts are "safe".