Hackers hijack PornHub ads to infect 'millions'

12 October, 2017, 15:47 | Author: Sammy Rose
  • The three KovCoreG social engineering templates we observed. Pic Proofpoint

Proofpoint detailed its analysis of the so-called KovCoreG group, well-known for spreading Kovter malware globally via such tactics.

The KovCoreG group targeted users of Pornhub, one of the world's most visited adult website, by deceiving them into installing the Kovtar malware that would appear via malicious pop-up ads when they visited some Pornhub webpages.

"In 2016, Google removed 112m bad ads which aside from malware, included illegal product promotion and misleading ads", he said.

Like other malvertising actors, the KovCoreG group is now focusing on redirecting users to social engineering sites (i.e. fake download), instead of redirecting users to websites hosting exploit kits.

The malware infected the victim's system by masquerading as fake updates for popular browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Edge - as either a "critical" update for the browser itself, or for software such as Adobe Flash.

The redirects surfaced automatically through ads displayed on Pornhub and caused the browser to display a full-page warning that appeared legitimate, researchers said. Force the user has installed, Kovter, malware, fraud advertising on their PC.

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Although ad fraud was the name of the game this time, the payload could easily have been changed to infect users with ransomware, or information-stealers, Epstein added.

"The combination of large malvertising campaigns on very high-ranking websites with sophisticated social engineering schemes that convince users to infect themselves means that potential exposure to malware is quite high, reaching millions of web surfers", the researchers wrote in a report of their findings.

A man looks at pornography online, Hanover, Germany, 25 January 2006.

Visitors to adult website PornHub may have been infected by malware after hackers infiltrated the site's advertising supply chain, according to researchers. This popularity makes it even more of a target for hackers. "This has led to an upturn in the number of reputable organizations distributing malvertising".

"It is worth remembering that defenses will be breached periodically no matter, so it's worth investing in threat detection controls so that any compromise can be quickly and reliably detected and thus responded to".

These malvertising campaigns are a popular mechanism for hackers to spread malware and Mark James, a security specialist at IT firm ESET, told The Guardian that Pornhub was a flawless target.

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