Malvertising Attack Targets Daily Mail Website

Researchers have uncovered yet another malvertising attack, this time targeting readers of the Daily Mail’s popular website.

Malvertising attacks do not infect the websites themselves, but instead use the advertising networks used to serve up commercial content to spread dodgy creatives. Previous attacks of this type have targeted porn sites, dating sites and portals like MSN and Yahoo.

This one was an SSL malvertising campaign conducted through the Microsoft Azure public cloud and made use of the Angler Exploit Kit which has been used in previous campaigns by other criminals.

Read More: How to explain malvertising to a five-year old

Daily Mail Malvertising

The malicious advertisers used real time bidding to win impressions on the network and used Azure to display the dodgy advert. The exploit kit targets vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and Flash and if a computer is susceptible, it is infected with the CryptoWall ransomware, which encrypts files.

Users don’t even have to click on the dodgy links to be infected, if their system is vulnerable.

“Malvertising has been one of the main infection vectors and continues to affect large publishers and ad networks through very distinct campaigns, very much like a whack-a-mole game,” said Jerome Segura.

“In addition to spreading via compromised websites, Angler EK leverages malvertising thanks to several different threat actors who use clever ways to go undetected as long as possible or are able to quickly adapt and get back on their feet if one of their schemes gets too much attention and is disrupted.

“During the past months we have been working very closely with ad networks, publishers, cloud providers and other companies that have been abused by these attacks. In addition, we hope that well documented cases such as this one help consumers to realize that malvertising is a very dangerous and yet often misunderstood threat. There is no such thing as a safe website anymore and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure their devices are fully patched and well protected.”

Segura said Malwarebytes had informed the Daily Mail and the MediaMatch advertising network, which had disabled the offending creative.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

View Comments

  • Its about time the advertising networks and possibly those using them (Daily mail) are made legally responsible for their content. I.e. they need to check the content and approve it before sending.

    There is no reason why online advertising should not be held to the same standards as TV , radio or even print advertising especially given the amount of real damage they can do.

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