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BizReport : Advertising archives : January 06, 2014

Yahoo malware attack underlines malvertising issue

Yahoo has made headlines over the past week, not for traffic or for channels for the upcoming Super Bowl - but for malware. According to reports, the online giant has been hit with a malware attack that is impacting thousands of Yahoo users every hour.

by Kristina Knight

According to Fox-IT, Yahoo servers began releasing an 'exploit kit' which keyed into Java vulnerabilities and then installed malware of consumers' computers - the malware came from ads, served by The malware issue could be infecting about 27,000 computers per hour, says the security firm.

Yahoo released this statement on Friday, "At Yahoo, we take the safety and privacy of our users seriously," it said in a prepared statement Monday. "From December 31 to January 3 on our European sites, we served some advertisements that did not meet our editorial guidelines -- specifically, they spread malware. On January 3, we removed these advertisements from our European sites."

According to one expert, the malware attack shouldn't be looked at as a surprise because of the rising threat of malware in the online ad space.

"The announcement by Yahoo that their ad servers were sending malware to users does not come as a surprise. The issue of "malvertising" - distributing malware through on-line ads - has been known and tracked for some time (e.g., 2009 paper by UCSB on malvertising in flash-based ads). Malvertising takes advantage of the fact that on-line ad delivery is a highly complex process. It is typical for many different entities to be involved in ad delivery. This offers many opportunities for attackers and makes it challenging to defend against this specific threat and other kinds of threats in on-line advertising," said Paul Barford, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder, MdotLabs.

Barford cites statistics from MdotLabs which show rising scale and diversity of malware attacks. If anything, Barford warns, the Yahoo attack should underline the importance of security for brands online and the threat to consumers from these fraudulent types.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: advertising fraud, malware, MdotLabs, online advertising, Yahoo

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