Attackers inserted malware into ads in an apparent attempt to get users to download rogue anti-virus software, eWEEK finds. The malware authors attempted to exploit a patched vulnerability affecting Adobe Acrobat and Reader that is unrelated to recent security reports of a zero-day bug. eWEEK.com and other Ziff Davis Enterprise sites were affected, though the ads were taken down shortly after the situation was discovered and the site is now clean.
Attackers infected some advertisements on the eWEEK.com Web site Feb. 23 in
an apparent attempt to get readers to download a rogue anti-virus application. eWEEK
has found the exploit and removed the infected code from its Web site.
the exploit involved a bug affecting Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat,
not related to the zero-day
Adobe bug publicized
Feb. 20, and is detected by Symantec
The infected code was found early Feb. 24 and the infected ads were removed
from the eWEEK site within a short time. The eWEEK Web site is now working
without any problems.
"The exploit in question did not compromise eWEEK.com or any Ziff Davis
Enterprise Web sites," said Stephen Wellman, director of community and content
for Ziff Davis Enterprise. "The attack was served through an advertisement
and took advantage of certain advertising-serving codes and was not our fault.
This vulnerability has been removed from all of our Web sites and we are taking
steps to ensure that this does not happen again."
The eWEEK site itself was not hacked; however, code was hosted on certain
advertisements that performed a redirect to a malicious Web site through a
series of IFrames. The new URL led to an adult Web site, which attempted to
load a PDF that exploits a known Adobe vulnerability. The vulnerability affects
versions 8.12 and earlier and has been patched.
According to Websense, if the exploit is successful, a file named
"winratit.exe" is installed in the user's temporary files folder with
no interaction from the user and two additional files are dropped onto the
"The host file is also modified so that if the user tries to browse to
popular software download sites to remedy the infected machine, s/he is instead
directed to a malicious Web site offering further rogue AV downloads,"
The Websense advisory also noted, "The name of the rogue AV application
is Anti-Virus-1. If the user chooses to register the rogue AV, a connection is
made to hxxp://[removed]-site.info/, which has been set up to collect payment
eWEEK uploaded a copy of the exploit code to VirusTotal, which reported that
only six vendors were detecting the exploit-Symantec, BitDefender, GData,
nProtect, Secure-Web Gateway and AntiVir.
It is unknown if other sites were affected Feb. 24 with
a similar attack via infected ads.