Take me out to

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2007-11-12 Print this article Print

the malware ..."> And Ynet isnt the only news site to be infected with this plague. Its spreading. Tucson Newspapers had a similar attack. That attack, according to a report, was on the site for 10 to 18 days. They say, "Our people reacted very quickly," which seems to be a contradiction.

A third attack, on the Boston Herald, was reported to have come in through a Flash ad on advertising.com. Ive confirmed that the attack is still on the advertising.com site, although its not clear that that specific flash movie is actually being served on any advertising.com customer sites.

The malware-scan.com attack itself is interesting enough (yawn!), but Im basically interested in how legitimate news organizations got to include such obviously undesirable content on their sites. Not only does the attack itself subject the user to malware, but it takes them away from the news site. And yet Ynet hasnt bothered yet to do anything about it, at least as far as I can tell.

In all of these news site cases, Ive seen the redirect performed through the same Flash movie mechanism, but I think the movie was served from three different sources: advertising.com, adtraff.com and in the Tucson Newspapers site all of the ad content appears to be served from tucson.com through Akamai. Ad networks have complicated relationships, but Im definitely confused. Someone is selling this dirty ad, and legitimate sites are getting scammed.

And then, just as I was finishing up this column, we found another one on an even more significant site: MLB.com, the site of Major League Baseball. Its not clear yet where the redirect is coming from, but it goes through newbieguide.com, which hosts what seems to be the same malicious Flash movie, to adverdaemon.com and on to the fake anti-malware ad, which weve seen both at longlifepc.com and fixthemnow.com.

To read about why Googles DoubleClick deal is facing Senate scrutiny, click here.

BTW, yes, of course even eWEEK has ads from outside ad networks such as DoubleClick, recently bought by Google. Is this a risk? At some level yes, of course it is. Both DoubleClick and eWEEK have no history of problems in this regard that I can recall, and I wouldnt tell you to avoid any specific sites, except maybe YNetnews.com.

The point is that Web sites that have content relationships with outside sites need to scrutinize the content coming from those sites. They need accountability from those partners, and they need contingency plans for taking the content down in case theres a problem with it. And someone needs to investigate these malware ad attacks further to find out how legitimate sites can avoid them.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers blog Cheap Hack More from Larry Seltzer

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel