Many cyber attackers have become very skilled at creating sophisticated fake websites or ads that closely resemble a reputable business. On Wednesday, a scamming ad that mimicked Amazon was able to slip under Google’s radar of detection and was listed at the top of the search results as a sponsored ad.
How the Malicious Advertisement Operated
According to ZDnet, anyone who searched for Amazon on Google was likely to see this malicious ad displayed. When a user would click on the ad, they were redirected to a computer support scam site. A computer support scam is when a malicious ad, site, link, or software will display messages claiming that the user’s computer is infected, or has had some sort of error, and will request that the user call the customer support line. When called, the scammer will pose as a reputable company, inform the user of the false issue, and try to convince them to purchase “security software,” or pay for technical support time, both of which are typically just to get their credit card number. When ZDnet used a tracer tool upon the ad, they found that it eventually resolved to Amazon’s official site, which was likely a method of fooling Google’s system into accepting it.
Once the user was redirected to the support scam site, it would detect what operating system they were running, whether Mac OS or Windows and then display a correlating message. For Windows, it would display the “blue screen of death,” and for Mac, it would alert the user that they were infected with crypto-ransomware. When attempting to exit the page, it would result in a pop-up running a script that continuously adds characters to the browser web address, which in some cases, caused both the browser and computer to freeze. Fortunately, the ad did not infect the user with any sort of malware.
On Thursday morning, the ad was no longer present, though the scamming site was still active. Google had declined to comment on the fake ad.
Protecting Your Organization From Threat Actors and Scams
There is an innumerable amount of cyber scams that are circulating the internet. These can be quite a risk to organizations, especially when an undereducated employee is fooled by one, and follows the prompts. This can result in monetary or data loss for the business. While educating employees on best practices is an important line of defense, it is also critical that an organization have formidable cyber security in place. Massive Alliance offers services that employ internet monitoring to discover threats and scams before they become an issue.