Microsoft Files 5 Lawsuits to Fight Malicious Ads

Microsoft has filed five lawsuits in Superior Court in Seattle to combat malicious advertising. The problem of attackers using malicious ads to ensnare users has been in the spotlight recently after a malicious ad was discovered on The New York Times Website.

Microsoft has filed five lawsuits targeting malicious online advertisers.

The company filed the suits in King County Superior Court in Seattle. The suits allege that a group of individuals using the business names "Soft Solutions," "Direct Ad," "," "ITmeter INC." and "" used malvertisements to distribute malware or trick victims into downloading rogue antivirus.

"Although we don't yet know the names of the specific individuals behind these acts, we are filing these cases to help uncover the people responsible and prevent them from continuing their exploits," blogged Tim Cranton, associate general counsel for Microsoft.

The subject of malicious advertisements has been a sticky one on the Web, as third-party networks are often relied upon for the delivery and creation of Web ads. In response to the outbreak of malicious ads, officials at DoubleClick told eWEEK in 2007 that they had implemented a security monitoring system to detect and disable malware.

The overall problem, however, has not gone away. Just recently, New York Times users were hit with an attack via a malicious ad. The ad tried to trick users into downloading bogus antivirus software. eWEEK also fell victim to the problem last year, when it was discovered code on certain advertisements redirected users to a malicious Website that attempted to exploit a vulnerability in Adobe Reader.

"This work is vitally important because online advertising helps keep the Internet up and running. It's the fuel that drives search technologies," Cranton added. "It pays for free online services like Windows Live, Facebook, Yahoo and MSN. Fraud and malicious abuse of online ad platforms are therefore a serious threat to the industry and for all consumers and businesses that rely on these free services."