Cyber-extortion scheme targets Google AdSense users

Google AdSense users are being targeted by a cyber-extortion campaign. According to a new blog post from Brian Krebs’ KrebsOnSecurity, Krebs was notified of the scheme via a reader who preferred to remain anonymous. The scheme leverages Google’s protections against abusing AdSense with false traffic to gain larger payments. In the notice, the scammers threaten to flood an AdSense user’s ads with fake traffic unless they pay the equivalent of $5,000 in bitcoin.

The full message used by the cyber-extortionists reads as follows:

Very soon the warning notice from above will appear at the dashboard of your AdSense account undoubtedly! This will happen due to the fact that we’re about to flood your site with huge amount of direct bot generated web traffic with 100% bounce ratio and thousands of IP’s in rotation — a nightmare for every AdSense publisher. More also we’ll adjust our sophisticated bots to open, in endless cycle with different time duration, every AdSense banner which runs on your site...

Next an ad serving limit will be placed on your publisher account and all the revenue will be refunded to advertisers. This means that the main source of profit for your site will be temporarily suspended. It will take some time, usually a month, for the AdSense to lift your ad ban, but if this happens we will have all the resources needed to flood your site again with bad quality web traffic which will lead to second AdSense ban that could be permanent!"

Google has acknowledged the scheme and states that they have various protections in place to prevent bot attacks against AdSense websites. Specifically, the company has the ability to filter fraudulent or malicious traffic before it even reaches the websites being targeted.

Nevertheless, the fact is that cyber-extortion hinges on fear, not rationality. Any social engineering attack, in the history of their use, hinges on core human emotions where irrational fears often make victims do irrational things — like paying a ransom for what is really a nonexistent threat. While there is no current evidence to suggest that the Google AdSense cyber-extortion scheme has claimed any victims, this is subject to change. Fear is a powerful tool used by criminals of all types. In fact, it is oftentimes the most powerful tool.

Hopefully, any Google AdSense users threatened by the cyber-extortionists will know about Google’s built-in protections or, at the very least, read about the scheme as it makes the rounds in the news. Knowing your enemy is half the battle.

Featured image: Flickr/ CreditDebitPro.com

Derek Kortepeter

Derek Kortepeter is a graduate of UCLA and tech journalist that is committed to creating an informed society with regards to Information Security. Kortepeter specializes in areas such as penetration testing, cryptography, cyber warfare, and governmental InfoSec policy.

Share
Published by
Derek Kortepeter

Recent Posts

Free remote work tools for IT teams during coronavirus pandemic

Setting up remote workstations during the coronavirus crisis so employees can work from home is…

20 mins ago

MonitorMinor stalkerware: Dangerous new Android malware

Stalkerware has been on the rise for a while, but MonitorMinor threatens to take this…

3 hours ago

5 ways to secure your applications from open-source vulnerabilities

No single tool acts as a silver bullet to slay all open-source vulnerabilities, but using…

6 hours ago

How to securely connect and manage remote workers

Reserve your place now to discover why a fully functional VPN solution can help you…

21 hours ago

Apple iOS contains vulnerability affecting VPN connections

A vulnerability affecting Apple iOS VPN connections could allow outsiders to see things you don’t…

24 hours ago

One hour to better security: How to leverage Azure MFA to secure an existing VPN solution

Deploying a VPN leveraging Azure MFA provides extra security and helps ensure that remote users…

1 day ago