Sunday, November 30, 2014
Digital Scam Alert: The Browser Hijackers
There is some adware making the rounds that has shown on up some of the computers I am working on. I thought it was originally something that just showed on my Windows machines. This attack occurred after I checked out one the websites (a “Watering Hole” technique to deliver malware) that my kids were visiting to watch free videos. I explained to my children how this occurs primarily on Windows machines, but this has changed as I would discover later.
This particular adware is ingenious in many ways. It occurs when you are browsing on the internet, but instead of going to the page you typed into it will redirect to another web page that looks and feels like a Google search page at first glance, but it has ads scattered around the screen. The ads first appear legitimate as it showed some national advertisers to bring it creditability to the web surfer. They are also reports that these organizations have hacked into legitimate ad networks.
This was a nuisance  and I had to clean out the computers with an anti- malware software. I also had to remove some extensions in my Chrome browser that the spyware installed. I didn't think about any of this again it until showed up on a Mac at one of the off-site offices I do some work at. This was on the Chrome browser and I immediately removed the browser from the machine. This is the first time I have seen malware like this on a Apple machine.
The software hijacks your browser settings and installs their own. In this snapshot a new search engine appears that appears like a legitimate one, but its not and serves ups ads for you to see from BetterMarkit. They try to trick you in buying security software.
According to the Cisco 2014 report on IT Security this type of activity is the second largest type of technique used by cybercriminals to make money on the internet after Trojan horses ( A Trojan horse is a hidden code that can take over specific functions  of your computer). Mobile is the next wave of security threat and Android devices are being targeted first by the shadow economy. The use of the Chrome Browser on desktops is part of that arsenal as you can see from my personal experience


The report also states that SPAM threats are still strong and below is a list that Cisco has compiled on the various types of messages that the are used to trick readers. I bet you have all seen one of these arrive in your email inbox once or twice. Spam software tries their best to do this, but the problem is that legitimate messages also get flagged and lost in Spam boxes.

The best defence is just plain education so people can recognize the signs of a con job on the internet. One trick, I did notice was websites with unbelievable prices on products (Fall off the truck sale) is one way they use to steal your credit card number, they use the number later after you buy the product. So this Xmas season buy from retailers you trust and if it's an unbelievable deal, be wary. Happy Holidays.

- Martin Seto
About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

Most Recent Blog Comment
Lorene Shyba says:
Full of terrific information, Thanks!...
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