March 18, 2018

Pornhub Users Targeted With Malware Laden Ads

11 October 2017, 07:35 | Edward Lowe

Image Hackers tried to make Porn Hub users download fake browser updates. Pic Proofpoint

The three KovCoreG social engineering templates we observed. Pic Proofpoint

Researchers said the campaign demonstrates a "dramatic decline" in the use of exploit kits over the past year, with KovCoreG instead relying on social engineering techniques - in this case, a scam posing as a security alert.

SECURITY FIRM Proofpoint has posted about a recent malvertising attack on top 25 website Pornhub that could have caused masturbators some sleepless nights.

The hacker group responsible for the attack is known as KovCoreG, and they managed to develop malvertising that delivered fake browser updates for the widely used Internet browsers: Chrome, Microsoft Edge/Internet Explorer, and Firefox. "In 2016, Google removed 12 million bad ads which, aside from malware, included illegal product promotion and misleading ads".

Those served the malicious ads were redirected to a social engineering page displaying an urgent message to install a critical update.

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A sign at the PornHub booth is displayed at the 2017 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on January 18 in Las Vegas. Once fake updates had been downloaded, malware was installed on victims computers, and this in turn automatically clicked on ads to generate money for the developers of the malware. Most users may not have even noticed a change in their systems when the malware downloaded, according to the researchers.

"The combination of large malvertising campaigns on very high-ranking websites with sophisticated social engineering schemes that convince users to infect themselves means that potential exposure to malware is quite high, reaching millions of web surfers", said the researchers.

Despite the fact that this attack was limited to click fraud, Proofpoint experts warned that an attack of this kind can easily be modified to become a ransomware or data theft Trojan attack.

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The KovCoreG group targeted users of Pornhub, one of the world's most visited adult website, by deceiving them into installing the Kovtar malware that would appear via malicious pop-up ads when they visited some Pornhub webpages.

These malvertising campaigns are a popular mechanism for hackers to spread malware and Mark James, a security specialist at IT firm ESET, told The Guardian that Pornhub was a flawless target.

This article has been updated to include a comment from PornHub.

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