Home Hacking News Cyber Criminals created 28 fake ad agencies and bought over 1 Billion advert views

Cyber Criminals created 28 fake ad agencies and bought over 1 Billion advert views

by Harikrishna Mekala

These fake ad companies each had individual websites and even LinkedIn portraits for their fake CEOs. Their sole purpose was to interface with larger broadcasting platforms, looking as legitimate businesses.

These ads would allow the Zirconium Inc to run JavaScript code that produced a “forced redirect,” effectively hijacking visitors off the original site to an intermediary domain. This intermediary region would fingerprint and match incoming traffic, then redirect the user to another area, also operated by Zirconium.

Hackers would use this third domain as an associate traffic jump-off point, allowing others to buy the traffic they captured from legitimate sites.

In many cases, users were redirected to pages attempting fake malware-laced Flash updates, websites offering malware-jammed software installers, tech support scams, or other scareware pages.

Ad security company Confiant, the one who found this entire operation, says ads bought by this group reached 62% of ad-monetized websites on a weekly basis.

All in all, Confiant thinks that about 2.5 million users who’ve found Zirconium’s malicious ads were redirected to a malicious site, with 95% of the victims being based in the US.

The entire section flew under the radar for most of the time but became harder to ignore as it grew and researchers began to detect more and more aggressive user fingerprinting scripts.

Dangu says the group particularly targeted desktop browsers, ignoring mobile traffic. The user’s working system did not count, the group going after Windows, Linux, Mac, or ChromeOS users alike.

The Confiant CTO also says Zirconium used only 20 of its 28 fake ad business identities for this operation, and eight inhabited dormant earlier this week when Confiant published its Zirconium expose.

Malware Advertising crews using fake ad companies may be a new thought for the casual infosec-passionate reader, but discussions this Bleeping Computer reporter had with industry experts last year revealed that most experts knew this was occurring, but they hadn’t managed to get all the details commonly to expose this growing trend.

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