ScanSafe, a managed Web security services company, on May 8 noticed a spike in traffic blocks that had a common theme. The company found that Tomshardware.com was unknowingly hosting the banner ad, which was redirecting users to a site where the driveby malware was automatically downloaded. In an interview with ScanSafe, Vice President of Product Strategy Dan Nadir said that the ad was being hosted out of a site in Argentina.
The banner ad was up, infecting victims with unpatched systems, for 24 hours. When ScanSafe contacted Toms Hardware, they were told that the site had already learned of the Trojan from its victims. The site has since removed the ad.
For any high-volume site such as Toms Hareware, a threat such as this stands to get many hits before its removed, even if its up only for an hour, Nadir pointed out.
According to a media kit on Toms Hardware, the site gets more than 5 million unique page views from more than 1.9 million unique visitors monthly. It ranks at No. 923 on Amazon.coms Alexa Web traffic ranking service, according to ScanSafe.
The incident illustrates the current status of malware worming its way into places that many people wouldnt expect them to be. "The trend a couple years ago was you could tell people to keep away from [certain sites, such as porn sites], and youll be safe. Because of these exploits, any site can potentially host malicious content. You cant just rely on user education or URL filtering that says This is a good site vs. This s a bad site. Any site can potentially be a bad site. Weve seen them in lots of MySpace pages, on Wikipedia pages and in banner ads. Theyre all over the place now," Nadir said.
A service like ScanSafe sits on the front end and uses real-time scanning to block these types of Trojan downloads before they have a chance to infect a system.
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