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New Click-Fraud Attack Is Stealthiest Yet

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the penny-here-penny-there dept.

Security 99

An anonymous reader sends news from The Washington Post's Security Fix blog of a new Trojan horse program that takes click fraud to the next level. The Trojan, dubbed FFsearcher by SecureWorks, was among the pieces of malware installed by sites hacked with the Nine-Ball mass compromise, which attacked some 40,000 Web sites this month. The Trojan takes advantage of Google's "AdSense for Search" API, which allows Web sites to embed Google search results alongside the usual Google AdSense ads. (SecureWorks' writeup indicates that Yahoo search is targeted too, but the researchers saw no evidence if the malware redirecting Yahoo searches.) While most search hijackers give themselves away on the victim's machine by redirecting the browser through some no-name search engine, FFsearcher "...converts every search a victim makes through Google.com, so that each query is invisibly redirected through the attackers' own Web sites, via Google's Custom Search API. Meanwhile, the Trojan manipulates the victim's PC and browser so that the victim never actually sees the attacker-controlled Web site that is hijacking the search, but instead sees the search results as though they were returned directly from Google.com (and with Google.com in the victim browser's address bar, not the address of the attacker controlled site). Adding to the stealth is the fact that search results themselves aren't altered by the attackers, who are merely going after the referral payments should victims click on any of the displayed ads. What's more, the attackers aren't diverting clicks or ad revenue away from advertisers or publishers, as in traditional click fraud: They are simply forcing Google to pay commissions that it wouldn't otherwise have to pay." If FFSearcher were the only piece of malware on the machine, it would have a better chance of staying under the radar.

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But Why? (-1, Redundant)

bezking (1274298) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537507)

Why would they waste their time? Surely there are easier ways to steal from adsense that don't involve putting people at risk...

Read The Fine Summary (5, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537701)

Why would they waste their time? Surely there are easier ways to steal from adsense that don't involve putting people at risk...

Were you just trying for first post, or did you have a point to make? "Why would they [the FFSearcher developers] waste their time?" Because it makes them money and, thus, is not a waste of time at all but rather quite the profitable use of their time. And from the summary, it sounds like FFSearcher does nothing malicious except for redirecting traffic such that it gets referral payments. How is that putting people at risk? And what are these easier-to-steal-from-adsense methods you're referring to?

Re:Read The Fine Summary (3, Informative)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537793)

Well, it's not directly harmful, but any malware on a machine is going to open up security vulnerabilities because it will usually:

1) Act as a rootkit to hide itself
2) Provide backdoor access

Either of these can be exploited by a third party. Remember Sony's DRM rootkit? China's Green Dam Youth Escort?

Re:Read The Fine Summary (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537987)

there's plenty of malware that disables vulnerabilities to prevent other malware from being installed.

Re:Read The Fine Summary (1)

cool_story_bro (1522525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28542391)

this is true (conficker, for example, patched the very vulnerability that it exploited to gain access). However, that doesn't mean that this particular chunk of malware should be assumed to be safe. Personally, I would err on the side of not trusting anything that changes the behavior of my computer without my knowledge of permission.

Re:Read The Fine Summary (1)

chaim79 (898507) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538825)

The scheme is very interesting, I'd say that if they ever got caught and put in front of a jury this would be close enough to legal that they'd have no problem walking... very interesting...

Re:Read The Fine Summary (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538857)

They installed software via illegal hacking into users computers, not to mention they hacked into servers and did stuff.

There are a lot of laws that could bone them here, and I doubt juries would take kindly to having their computers modified without their consent unless it was by big media or Microsoft.

Re:Read The Fine Summary (1)

chaim79 (898507) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538885)

True, the hacking bit they wouldn't get away with, but the 'click fraud' is close enough to be difficult to call.

Re:Read The Fine Summary (1)

myxiplx (906307) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539545)

Difficult to call? They fraudulently redirected traffic through their servers to generate themselves money, making google pay for transactions they didn't need to. It's practically the definition of wire fraud.

Re:Read The Fine Summary (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28539723)

The thing is, creator of this most likely is not a single person / group. What most articles fail to mention is that these eastern european/russian money-making schemes are usually affiliate programs itself. Affiliates get paid their percent from revenue from computers they're installed the software to. The affiliate program itself creates the software and handles everything else other than generating installs.

Even if you happened to catch them, who would you sue? Even the catching part is a major headache, as russian gov does nothing and doesn't have extradition treaty with USA, so you probably wouldn't be seeing them in court anyways.

Would you sue the affiliate program who only made the software and handled payments from google? As GP said, it probably would be legal in USA too, so theres not much to do on that front.
Would you sue the affiliate who exploited vulnarebilities and hacked servers? That would be the only option, and even then its one affiliate down and others continue (if you happened to get him extradited to usa court, because frankly, their goverment doesn't seem to care at all)

There is a reason why so much money-making-scheme malware comes from russia and eastern europe. Its basically a safe haven for adware/malware. Hell, even the conficker creator hasn't been catch yet and he is supposedly from Ukraine (first version of conficker was specifically avoiding ukraine computers). Security community even has one suspected home adsl ip located in Kiev, Ukraine that was used to test a connection from still-yet-to-be-released new variant of conficker, but like pirates usually also point out, ip address doesn't necessarely prove anything.

There is still major headaches to just "sue" them and the fact they live in Russia is not the smallest, and click-frauds and such dont generally create much publicity and almost never goverments get involved in such. Hell, even when I've sent abuse reports to their hosting companies, nothing happens.

Re:Read The Fine Summary (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 5 years ago | (#28543211)

no heavy duty prison time you mean?

Re:Read The Fine Summary (1)

Florian Weimer (88405) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538811)

And what are these easier-to-steal-from-adsense methods you're referring to?

Adsense for Domains plus some typo-squatting registrations, perhaps. See slashdot.info for an example.

Does this affect all browsers? (2, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537517)

The article mentions that both IE and Firefox are vulnerable, but doesn't talk about other browsers. It also doesn't say if it affects current versions, or unpatched browsers only. Will security patches for IE and Firefox be coming soon?

Re:Does this affect all browsers? (1)

prndll (1425091) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537881)

I saw nothing in the article or any of the linked articles that specifically refers to IE or Firefox or anything else....

Re:Does this affect all browsers? (1)

zarzu (1581721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537939)

the article specifically shows the 'augmented reality' in IE and firefox, it even goes on to specifically point out in the end, that the features include:

Working code to hijack both Firefox and IE

so my best guess is that only those two browsers are actually affected and as they are the common browsers there probably isn't much motivation to work on hijacking other browsers (same thing as with mac - windows).

Re:Does this affect all browsers? (1)

prndll (1425091) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538201)

Forgive me please....but I don't understand a single thing you just said.

Re:Does this affect all browsers? (4, Informative)

zarzu (1581721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538321)

the washington post article doesn't give you any more information than the summary, you should be reading the trojan analysis [secureworks.com] which is linked in both the summary and the article.

Re:Does this affect all browsers? (1, Funny)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538289)

Lynx [wikipedia.org] is presumably immune...

Re:Does this affect all browsers? (3, Informative)

jesser (77961) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538775)

Firefox and IE are the targets of the trojan once it already has control over your computer. That doesn't mean they are "vulnerable" or are in need of patches.

Only the last link in the Slashdot article discusses how these attackers gained control over your computer:

After redirection, the exploit payload site returns highly obfuscated malicious code. The malicious code attempts to exploit MS06-014 [microsoft.com] (targeting MDAC) and CVE-2006-5820 [mitre.org] (targeting AOL SuperBuddy), as well as employing exploits targeting Acrobat Reader and QuickTime. The MS06-014 exploit code will download a Trojan dropper with low AV detection rate [virustotal.com] . This dropper drops a dll with the name SOCKET2.DLL to Windows' system folder. This file is used to steal user information. The malicious PDF file, served by the exploit site, also has very low AV detection rate [virustotal.com] .

So, basically an IE hole that was fixed in 2006, plus a handful of plugin vulnerabilities. They didn't even bother looking for an old Firefox vulnerability to exploit, perhaps because too many Firefox users are up-to-date.

Re:Does this affect all browsers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28553877)

Or because Firefox has a small market share. If you're a virus writer, target the bigger market. Also, big corporates use IE, and they tend to have more powerful machines.

Re:Does this affect all browsers? (1)

jesser (77961) | more than 5 years ago | (#28554453)

Or because Firefox has a small market share.

Perhaps. But I can only assume the same is true of "AOL SuperBuddy", because I've never even heard of it, and they targeted it.

Also, big corporates use IE, and they tend to have more powerful machines.

The power of a machine doesn't matter for affiliate-program fraud.

Re:Does this affect all browsers? (5, Informative)

Jahava (946858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538791)

The virus itself is a complicated one. As per the article, it was installed on the system during a mass exploit dubbed Nine-Ball [websense.com] , which was loaded onto 40,000 legitimate websites. Visiting those sites caused the Nine-Ball script to execute, which redirected an iframe to a page containing malicious code which mounts a series of attacks. Those mentioned by the site are:

  • Exploit MS06-014 [microsoft.com] , which targets the MDAC ActiveX control
  • Exploit CVE-2006-5820 [mitre.org] , which targets the AOL SuperBuddy ActiveX control
  • [Some] targeting Acrobat Reader"
  • [Some targeting] QuickTime

So basically, an application (browser) visits this malicious page. If that application runs the ActiveX controls mentioned (and presumably Acrobat Reader and/or QuickTime), it was vulnerable to the initial Nine-Ball exploit. IE qualifies for all 4 of those; Firefox can use ActiveX (I believe, with a plugin), but not out of the box... however, it does have plugins for Acrobat Reader and QuickTime.

If any of those vulnerabilities were present with the applicaton visited the iframe, it runs malicious code that installs a crapton of viruses on the host computer, among them the FFSearcher virus.

Once FFSearcher is on your computer, it causes itself to get run all of the time, probably as Administrator. It then proceeds to:

  1. Executes a Windows root-kit to hide its presence
  2. Injects code into browser application processes; for IE, it will inject an IE-specific payload, and for Firefox, it will inject a Firefox-specific payload. Each payload causes the infected browser to do all the malicious redirecting that is described in lower-level detail in the article.

So a nice, clean, and secure IE / Firefox get started up, but Windows, itself infected, loads the virus into them! No vulnerabilities are exploited, here. Since FFSearcher runs as Administrator, everything it does is straightforward and allowed by the system; it can do basically anything. What it chooses to do is target IE and Firefox. Since it's running as Administrator, it doesn't have to exploit any vulnerabilities in either; it just barges in and rewrites parts of them to do its bidding. Administrator can do things like that.

In conclusion, there isn't any vulnerability in IE or Firefox that's involved in FFSearcher, and the only reason FFSearcher doesn't pwn other browsers is because the author didn't bother to write a payload for them, too. FFSearcher, itself, was installed due to some browser vulnerability that happened sometime, and now, permanently present on the system, takes advantage of its Administrator privileges to do some pretty wicked stuff.

Re:Does this affect all browsers? THIS DOES 2 HELP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28539511)

This affects ALL browsers on any OS really, if you add these bogus control & redirect servers it uses to the HOSTS file... and, in a GOOD way:

Add these parts of it to your local HOSTS file VS. these domains (for this one & 9-ball attack too) & server this attacker uses:

0 ffsearcher.com
0 www.ffsearcher.com
0 rnw.kz
0 bro.tw
0 rmi.tw
0 ninetoraq.com
0 www.i-web-search.com
0 my-web-way.com

& possibly, but not QUITE "absolutely sure of" (unless others can correct me here on it) ->

0 wxtr812.com

(Using a text editor like notepad.exe, & using 0 (*NIX's & Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP/Server 2003), OR, the larger/slower 0.0.0.0, or worst case default scenario still, the "loopback adapter" 127.0.0.1 as your blocking address on newer Windows variants & possibly others)

AND, IF there are others I missed while reading the articles on this? Let me know please in reply with the URL citing them where you obtained the information from... (thanks!)

SO - That answers YOUR question, albeit in a GOOD way - Yes: THIS suggestion/technique of mine here affects ALL browsers, but in a GOOD way, simply by using a globally covering file for IP called your local HOSTS file, vs. this machinations' control servers...

APK

P.S.=> You can't be get burned, if you don't (or rather, can't) go into the kitchen (& that's what this kind of defense gives anyone, for all browsers, & if you keep the file, system to system into the future (on IPv4 @ least))... apk

Q Should this one be blocked - my-web-way.com? apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28539645)

See my subject-line above, & again - Should THIS site below, be blocked:

0 my-web-way.com

This one, I don't know about FOR SURE either, but, I am not asking for the same reasons as I did on wxtr812.com in my last post though!

(Yes, sort-of almost "correcting myself" per my last post, but, not really... read on)

See, this one? It IS being "adversely affected" by its features being minused, & I'd almost bank on it this "technique" of theirs will misuse this one again, but, by being used by other attacks that use this one's mechanics - so does that justify blocking that one out, since it is currently being misused thus?

(Heh - on the note of this thing's design: Clever tricks this one uses & some, I have used (e.g.-> resource storage in apps before to GOOD use, but, I also theorized it here -> http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1266651&cid=28320119 [slashdot.org] albeit, for misuse by others also, too bad to see it used in practice already, but I think I said it in that URL, that there is 'very little original thought' & IF I can think of it? Others will be USING it by then...)

APK

P.S.=> Anyhow/anyways - Should that one be included in my list above?

Again - It IS being victimized & misused, but, it is NOT actually a "bad server" really... I don't KNOW what to think really about BLOCKING that one in a HOSTS file, or @ the router level, etc. et al (feedback's appreciated, in other words + opinions/thoughts) - apk

Re:Does this affect all browsers? Chrome? (1)

xyzzypoofs (1589185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28540809)

I guess I should finally download Chrome - isn't that a Google product?

How the server gets infected? (2, Interesting)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537523)

I can't find how the server gets infected. Is it Windows, Linux, Apache, IIS, ... ?

What part is to blame?

Re:How the server gets infected? (2, Informative)

mrbene (1380531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537573)

The server in the Nine-Ball distribution could be any with an active exploit against it - an "infected" server is just one serving up pages with an iframe to the exploit site, so that site visitors would end up being attacked. Since any web server on any OS can serve up HTML...

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537595)

But how this exploit gets on the server web page?

Re:How the server gets infected? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28538139)

But how this exploit gets on the server web page?

because the Jews in accounting listened to microsofts TCO arguments and bought windows for their servers. if you use windows you will get 0wned and everybody knows that so that means they are Jews and Niggers at the exact same time somehow

Re:How the server gets infected? (2, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538387)

The goal is to get some website to distribute your payload, which consists of specially crafted HTML code. This can be done by simply posting a comment on any webpage which accepts and retransmits arbitrary HTML. Or it could be done by exploiting a bug in IIS, Apache, or other webserver software so that the original site serves up your payload. Or you could hack Windows or Linux to get the webserver to use your payload. The payload then exploits any number of browser bugs, whether Firefox, IE, or another browser to install software automatically into Windows when the victim visits a compromised website.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28540829)

Thanks for the info, but I'd like to understand how the Windows, Linux, IIS, Apache gets hacked.

I understand that once you got access you can do whatever you want, but I'd like to know what was the first step to compromise the server.

Re:How the server gets infected? (2, Informative)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28543393)

Ads.
Sites host ads.
People buy ads through ad placement companies like Google.
Bad people engineer ads to contain the exploit and payload.
Site serves up bad ad.
Users of site get fucked.

It's always the fucking ads.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537609)

Or it comes in a form of an ADD pointing from an infected server?

Re:How the server gets infected? (2, Funny)

emlyncorrin (818871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28540331)

What has Attention Deficit Disorder got to do with this?

Re:How the server gets infected? (5, Informative)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537623)

Reading the article helps - there is only one server: my-web-way.com , which is supposedly controlled by the attackers. The whois entry reveals, that it is registered in Moskow, Russia.. probably with a fake name.

Now to what gets infected: Windows machines. It plays with DLL's and the Registry (described in the article).

Interesting is: this peace of mallware does not directly (perceivably) damage the user of the infected machine, but it generates revenue through (semi fake) Google ad clicks. I wonder how they (Google) will react.. would guess that big corporations get quite pissed by this kind of stuff. Let's wait and see..

Re:How the server gets infected? (3, Funny)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537835)

Interesting is: this peace of mallware does not directly (perceivably) damage the user of the infected machine, but it generates revenue through (semi fake) Google ad clicks. I wonder how they (Google) will react.. would guess that big corporations get quite pissed by this kind of stuff. Let's wait and see..

Finally, a piece of malware I'm not super-annoyed by.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

wordsnyc (956034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538605)

Yeah. This really isn't "click fraud" in the sense of defrauding Google through spurious clicks. The ads are real, the clicks are from real potential customers, it's just that Google is having to cough up a minuscule fraction of its revenue to the page owner -- the same commission it would pay if the search were run under a legitimate instance of the Adsense for Search api, which is to say .005% of SQUAT.

Stop the presses! Google's been robbed! Not really. Obviously, the taking over PCs bit is bad behavior, but gimme a break. It's actually a neat idea, Office-Spacian in its elegance.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539097)

Um... depending on the search terms 20 dollars a click isn't unreasonable (or wasn't two years ago), and while Google puts a cap on payouts for high click value terms, they still pay about 75% of their click revenue to adsense publishers.

Hijack a hundred thousand machines this way, and you could pull a pretty good income, at least till you get shut down.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539129)

Note: my figures are from 2004, and may not reflect 2009 numbers.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539157)

Second note: Those payout figures are for large affiliate programs (like with AOL), they probably don't reflect smaller sites.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

wordsnyc (956034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539283)

I've gotten $3 per click on my sites on a good day. Of course, we all just take Google's word for the economics of Adsense -- they don't "do" auditing.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537863)

I wonder how they (Google) will react.. would guess that big corporations get quite pissed by this kind of stuff. Let's wait and see..

They've got the talent, the resources, and the legal team. This seems like an excellent time for Google to "be evil" and take the law into their own hands.

We could only hope.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538155)

They've got the talent, the resources, and the legal team. This seems like an excellent time for Google to "be evil" and take the law into their own hands.

Yeah. Take the law into their own hands! With ... a team of lawyers.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538371)

What do you think lawyers are for?

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538389)

What do you think lawyers are for?

Hypothetically speaking, if someone "took the law into his own hands," the lawyers would probably be the first to go...

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538297)

Nah, they'll just track which clicks are coming from that domain and then turn off the AdSense account(s) associated with it. That shouldn't be too hard to do.

Re:How the server gets infected? (2, Funny)

rattaroaz (1491445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538235)

Reading the article helps - there is only one server: my-web-way.com , which is supposedly controlled by the attackers. The whois entry reveals, that it is registered in Moskow, Russia.. .

In America, server gets infected, but in Soviet Russia, infections get served!

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) | more than 5 years ago | (#28541327)

Reading the article helps - there is only one server: my-web-way.com , which is supposedly controlled by the attackers. The whois entry reveals, that it is registered in Moskow, Russia.. .

In America, server gets infected, but in Soviet Russia, infections get served!

In America you serve the infection while in Soviet Russia the infection serves you.

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

weicco (645927) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538945)

Reading the article helps - there is only one server: my-web-way.com , which is supposedly controlled by the attackers.

echo 0.0.0.0 my-web-way.com >> C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

There. I ended up their revenue stream :)

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28540815)

I'm more interested in the server side of the story, how a fake Google ad finds a way on the server?

Re:How the server gets infected? (1)

notrandom (993713) | more than 5 years ago | (#28540617)

tell you how. this is what happened to my machines (webserver and users). users got infected by some trojan. code was downloaded. executed with admin privileges. my webmastr was infected. ftp passwords were sniffed. all index*.(php)|(html) files were added the injections code. some others as well as phpbb logins etc etc. from there more users were browser-infected. some of those had ftps or such on other sites. rinse. repeat. i cleaned the servers fast as i was in standby at infection time luckily. since then i only work online from ubuntu. webmasters and staff as well. we need those adsense money, i can't risk some stupid windows fuckup rob me. nice lesson learned btw it was about time for some drastic action.

why ever run that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28537599)

"...the Trojan manipulates the victim's PC and browser so that the victim never actually sees the attacker-controlled Web...

Why would anyone run something like that? I've always followed the principle, "nothing runs on my computer unless I know what it is, and then only with my explicit permission". Following that simple rule keeps all manner of crapware off your system. I follow it for both native executables, and javascripts/etc that random web pages want to run. If I don't know what your script does, and have a good reason to trust it, then sorry but it isn't going to run. My computer is *mine*, not yours, and you don't get to run things on it without my say so. If your web site doesn't work without it, then I'll go elsewhere.

Serves Google right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28537613)

They have a totally opaque, arbitrary policy regarding click fraud and tons of valid users (like myself) have been cut off from using Adsense in our sites without Google even having the courtesy to tell us why, or give a reasonable "retry" period. As near as I can tell they cut me off because my site was finally starting to generate some click revenue and they just flat out didn't want to pay. I'm not at all sorry to see something like this that might cause them to cut off enough people that people finally come to their senses and cry "foul." Hopefully Google will pay up the yin yang and finally realize they need a valid way to end Adsense users' use, and a equally valid way to allow people who may have been cut off through no fault of their own to come back in. They don't even take the time to reply to queries or questions after the initial "review." Poof. You're cut. That's it.

I had nothing at all to do with this virus and it sounds like something that will soon be usurped to do far nastier things than make Google pay higher click payouts. But I'm not at all sorry to see something make them perhaps realize that click fraud may be totally unintentional on the part of the Adsense user, and it's not fair (nor should it be legal!) to penalize that person for clicks outside their control.

Re:Serves Google right... (1)

ragethehotey (1304253) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537653)

no it didnt generate ANY revenue. thats the whole point, that they wont pay for fake clicks. why do you think that it FINALLY happened when in reality nothing really had changed?

Re:Serves Google right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28538197)

I like the QUOTE and BLOCKQUOTE tags too!

Re:Serves Google right... (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538481)

"and it's not fair (nor should it be legal!) to penalize that person for clicks outside their control"

If you own a dog, you're responsible for it. If you own a car, you're responsible for it. If you own a computer, you're not responsible?

Cry us a river - - -

Re:Serves Google right... (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539589)

Did you actually read the portion you quoted in context? The "clicks outside their control" he's talking about aren't made on his computer but by some random person/bot visiting his website, which he was trying to monetise via Adsense.

Re:Serves Google right... (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28540297)

If someone injects a drug into your dog that makes him bite everyone in sight then the person who injected the drug is responsible.

The flaw in their foolproof plan (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537683)

So, let me get this straight:

The trojaneers' moneymaking is predicated upon people actually clicking on ads.

Uh... good luck with that!

Re:The flaw in their foolproof plan (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537821)

That comment makes more sense than any others I've read in this thread.... sigh

Re:The flaw in their foolproof plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28537955)

Do you have some other explanation for Google's income?

Re:The flaw in their foolproof plan (5, Informative)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538137)

Yeah, good thing no one clicks [google.com] on Google's ads.

Google reported $21,128,514,000.00 in ad revenues for FY2008.

Re:The flaw in their foolproof plan (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28551197)

Does Google charge their customers per clickthrough or per impression?

Re:The flaw in their foolproof plan (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28538273)

I would not in a million years click on adds in most sites (those that get past addblock et al, that is), as they're usually about as helpful and legit looking as the used car salesman guy advertising the steak knife cheese juicer on late-night TV.

But... google adds are small, typically unintrusive and sometimes (*shock* *horror*) relevant and even helpful. So yeah, I will click on one or two every now and then.

Re:The flaw in their foolproof plan (1)

mail2345 (1201389) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538549)

Called people who do not understand the concept of ads on their computer. Like the people who fall for typosquatters. Not as dumb as the people who believe that the fellow from nigeria can make him rich, and enlargen his penis.

Next step, bank accounts (2, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537705)

This reminds me of the concern about bank fraud that IBM made the ZTIC device to help mitigate.

First, the attack is click fraud, but its not that large a jump to target bank transactions. The malware can target a Web browser where a person thinks they transferred some cash to their savings from their checking, when in reality, their entire balance was just moved to an attacker's offshore account. The malware would be doing a man in the middle dance making the victim think that everything is fine, when in reality their account is empty.

This type of attack would get around a lot of security measures used by banks today. The only real defense would be to have a separate device that shows transactions on it and one confirms or denies on that device as opposed to a potentially compromised computer.

Re:Next step, bank accounts (1)

zarzu (1581721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537785)

i thought there have already been trojans like this (or it was just a thought experiment told to me in a slightly too threatening way), the general solution to it is - as you point out - the inclusion of a second device, like a cell phone, to confirm the transaction. makes it more of a hassle to complete a transaction but adds a rather strong way of detecting fraud, as long as people take the time to read the text message and don't just dismiss it as another 'yes really'-button. i think these trojans are a very interesting development and will probably keep many people on their toes in the future.

Re:Next step, bank accounts (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539429)

Let us say that your bank account were drained by said trojan. You look it up on an uninfected machine and see that all your money was just transferred to say, Zaire. You call your bank, bitch, moan, and you have your money back. Said account in Zaire is banned from all transfers by that bank.

That's standard practice for fraud transfers.

Now, lets say instead, that your bank account was only short a dollar.

One single dollar.

Would you notice?

Alright, if you noticed, do you think the people you work with would notice? All of them? What about one in ten, out of say, a thousand people?

By the time you figure this out, the attackers in Zaire have already made hundreds of thousands of dollars. Good luck getting the Bank of Zaire, or the police force in Zaire to get your money back. Most likely it has been converted into a big house and a few cars.

Re:Next step, bank accounts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28539753)

Now, lets say instead, that your bank account was only short a dollar.

One single dollar.

Would you notice?

Yes, I would, because on my monthly statement there would be a line saying that there was a one dollar transaction to some account in Zaire. Out of principle, I would probably make a fuss out of that.

If I were to write such a trojan, I would have it look through transactions of the last few months, and insert one which occurs monthly. I would probably not notice that my "ISP fee" was paid twice in a certain month, nor that one of those has a different account number. It would take a lot of effort though, since I'd have to somehow open an account wich a similar name to a popular ISP, specifically target its users, and then take the money and run after one month in case someone does notice.

Re:Next step, bank accounts (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28545887)

Bank statements do have transaction records on them. While many people (myself included) do not examine them regularly or carefully, there are still many who would.

Shut Down the Adsense Account? (1)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537707)

What's keeping Google from shutting down the account that are getting the illegitimate clicks? I doubt they could produce a hundreds of different account just because it would make receiving payment extremely difficult.

Re:Shut Down the Adsense Account? (2, Informative)

zarzu (1581721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538407)

i don't think anything is keeping them from it, it's probably the first thing they did or are going to do. the problem is that they need to track the configuration of the trojan (which can be updated remotely) and keep shutting down accounts of the new search sites. it would be far more convenient if they had a possibility to determine click fraud by analyzing their stats, which is very difficult this way, as the fraud essentially looks the same as normal behavior. not having that option increases their work and increases the probability that there are different trojans running which they aren't aware off.

fp TROOLKORe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28537851)

ANOTHER TROUBLED of the above towels on tHe fllor it. Do not share need to join the brain. It is the about a project if you move a table myself. This isn't

Nine-ball? (2, Insightful)

Suzuran (163234) | more than 5 years ago | (#28537991)

Does this mean Cirno is the strongest?

Re:Nine-ball? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28538281)

It doesn't make a bit of difference, guys, because the balls are inert.

Re:Nine-ball? (1)

KDingo (944605) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538979)

Apparently she's not as dumb as we've perceived her to be.

Re:Nine-ball? (1)

Kushieda Minorin (1453751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28548243)

One thing is for sure: even at Google you can't take it easy.

Interesting Point (4, Interesting)

Demonantis (1340557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538035)

Who would be liable for the bug? Since its dlls that are affected Microsoft would have to fix it. The thing is why should they? Their customers are not affected terribly. It is not technically fraud because it is not really misrepresenting what it presents. Google still benefits because of the adsense charges. It would be interesting to see who wants to fix this.

Re:Interesting Point (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28541157)

It is in Google's interest to fix it. If the perception that adsense isn't fair becomes widespread, it hurts their pricing power.

Why should the user care? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28538307)

If it doesn't affect the user, why should they care?

They could even pay the user to install the trojan. It would be win-win, only Google would lose.

Detection Should be Trivial (1, Interesting)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538347)

Alright and then google almost immediately bans that person for adsense.

Wow brilliant plan guys.

I had code like that on 3 sites (1)

bobjr94 (1120555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538755)

We have 3 web sites hosted by gate.com, all different domain names, different passwords, etc.. We have the same code/virus/whatever on all 3 sites, all used a hidden iframe linking to a site in Russia.

Re:Blocking the .ru domain (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538967)

Does anyone know if the users browser times out if the router blocks the .ru domain? It may be worth monitoring your router logs for sudden excessive .ru domain requests.

this isn't click fraud! (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#28538807)

They're not inducing clicks so it's not by definition click fraud. Who titled that? They're relying on a normal amount of clicks and just taking a commission off them that Google themselves offer freely. So basically they're just violating Google's terms of service for their search API. Actually it might not even say anything specifically related to showing a search API as a full page but still collecting the commission or whatever they're doing. Sounds like it's 99% Google's fault if you ask me.

I have a stupid question (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539093)

It seems all of these nefarious activities on the Internet seem to come from Russia and other Eastern European countries. What is up with that? It it some sort of nerd gangster culture in that part of the world? Seriously, can someone please explain it to me.

Russia is full of unemployed people (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539717)

Many of them are computer scientists, mathematicians, and hackers.

Those people are actively recruited by the russian mob, because they have seen the amounts of money available in these sorts of scams.

Re:Russia is full of unemployed people (1)

Moodie-1 (966737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28549731)

This may be off-topic, but WTH. Re your sig: Take a look at this YouTube video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QRCKNoUgko [youtube.com] It's a hoot!
(If the link doesn't work then just search for "Stapelfahrer Klaus (subtitled)".)

If its evil, it can't be Google..... (2, Funny)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 5 years ago | (#28539139)

....the impersonators prefer "Don't Be Elvis"

What does the original author really know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28539815)

From TFA. Specifically the responses at the bottom: "Brian, wouldn't an add-on like Giorgio Maone's NoScript stop the processes necessary for this kind of fraud to succeed on Firefox ?". Which gets this as an answer: "@mhenriday - I suppose it's possible, but I doubt it."

Next he refers to the Security labs article [websense.com] for more information. Notice the "payload" section and the marked sections. See how this is all javascript code? Now check the NoScript website [noscript.net] , see how its primary use is a "Javascript/Java/Flash" blocker?

So why would the author have any doubts if this NoScript plugin can actually stop the execution of this javascript code block? Does he somehow think this block of code is very different from other javascript snippets or could it be that he doesn't like (or understand) this free, easy and most of all safe kind of protection ?

Maybe I'm too cynical here but I wonder.. Double agenda perhaps?

dll with the name SOCKET2.DLL (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#28540005)

"This dropper drops a dll with the name SOCKET2.DLL to Windows' system folder"

Having thus read, I need go no farther. How does the exploit actually get on to the web servers i nthe first place?

New Apple accessory (0, Offtopic)

FishTankX (1539069) | more than 5 years ago | (#28540173)

iFan: To keep blistering performance from blistering your hands. Also keeps you cool in the hot Iraqi summer, when our phones are out on the battlefield.

Unaltered altered noclick click fraud (1)

ioshhdflwuegfh (1067182) | more than 5 years ago | (#28541639)

With all this modern technology and stuff, things get complicated. Add a bit of English to it and it goes like this:

[...] the Trojan manipulates the victim's PC and browser so that the victim never actually sees the attacker-controlled Web site that is hijacking the search, but instead sees the search results as though they were returned directly from Google.com [italics added].

This as-though content that victim does not see is just like the content that the victim sees, the only difference being that there is no difference between the two:

Adding to the stealth is the fact that search results themselves aren't altered by the attackers, who are merely going after the referral payments should victims click on any of the displayed ads.

What's more, in this click fraud even clicks aren't changed:

What's more, the attackers aren't diverting clicks[...]

Welcome to the world of your invisible, untouchable overlords!

No way they will receive any money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28541841)

With google taking more then a month to send a check and with their fraud detection and review process
there is no way these guys will see a penny. The more money they make the more the review is intense.

If you want to do something like that you'd better have a really nice front operation (like let's say enrolling
a lot of real webmasters in the scam to boost their real revenue) so that you can justify the insane amount
of clicks you will generate.

Cat - mouse (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 5 years ago | (#28541903)

One solution to the AdSense cat-and-mouse game is conversion-based ad fees.

This is how the "complete 10 offers and get a free iPod" sites work. Clicking on the link doesn't work, you need to sign up for the offer and/or spend money.

If you are using AdWords fully, Google knows your conversions and knows what value those conversions provide to you. Your payment for ads could be changed so that you don't pay for CPM, you don't pay for clicks, you pay for conversions, which are money in your bank.

There is a possibility for you to game Google -- don't report all your conversions, effectively getting some of them for free. However, Google is already in the business of optimize ad serving to increase their revenue. This would be changed to optimize ad serving to increase BOTH of your revenues.

-----------

In an effort to produce a full post I will also address some implementation issues.

Another way to game Google here could allow free ads by creating many accounts or many campaigns. One solution is to have a hybrid payment method (You pay X cents per click plus Y% of your conversion value). Another solution is to only offer this new payment method to long-standing customers or those who have already paid $X in fees for AdWords.

A transparent and easy solution would be difficult, but this would remove many of the excuses people currently have for NOT using AdWords, especially on the expanded content network.

I'm impressed.. (1)

Hobyx (1175577) | more than 5 years ago | (#28546429)

That's like the kind of sneakiness that would end up in Ocean's 11 or The Unusual Suspects. Whoever made this should do something productive with their time.

Old Fashioned Detective Work (1)

manoftin (1432855) | more than 5 years ago | (#28556199)

Surely Google should just follow the money?

Stealthiest? (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28557499)

Why would they make one that was LESS stealthy? Does the Air Force work on making bombs less accurate? Does Porsche try to make their cars more sluggish? Is intel working on a chip that gets hotter?

This is like those stupid info bites where they pretend a change in any statistic is meaningful. "Unemployment is the highest it's been all month!" So what? You can always find some point in the past to say it's breaking some record. "This is the purplest purple since, um, 20 years ago. Wow!" That it beats some arbitrarily selected mark is not inherently meaningful. Especially in the case of arms races. Intel made a faster chip? No shit, Sherlock. That's their JOB.

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