Malware campaign inflated views of pro-Russia videos

The botnet behind it was also designed to fraudulently view Web ads en masse

Trustwave's researchers found a botnet that inflated views on pro-Russian videos as well as fraudulently increased views on ads placed on specially-designed web pages.

Trustwave's researchers found a botnet that inflated views on pro-Russian videos as well as fraudulently increased views on ads placed on specially-designed web pages.

A botnet designed for Web advertising fraud was also used to nudge up the number of views of some pro-Russian videos on the website DailyMotion, according to security vendor Trustwave.

An investigation into what appeared to be strictly ad fraud turned out to have a surprising political angle, wrote Rami Kogan of Trustwave's SpiderLabs, in a blog post on Thursday.

"We can't know for sure who's behind the fraudulent promotion of video clips, but it appears to be politically motivated," he wrote.

Using botnets to inflate the number of views on videos isn't new, but Kogan wrote "this is the first time we've observed the tactic used to promote video clips with a seemingly political agenda."

One of the videos promoted Russia's position on Crimea, which it forcibly annexed from Ukraine last year. Others also dealt with Russian political and military issues, although some had no Russia connection. The videos appear to have been removed from DailyMotion now.

In early April, the Guardian wrote of an office in St. Petersburg whose employees are paid to write pro-Russian messages on forums and social media sites.

All of the videos had around 320,000 views each but weren't widely shared on Twitter or even commented on, Kogan wrote.

Computers that visited the videos were infected with a trojan called Bedep. Some people were infected after they visited a tourism website that hosted Angler, a so-called exploit kit that tries to find software vulnerabilities on a computer in order to deliver malware.

The Bedep malware was programmed to create a hidden virtual desktop on a victim's computer and runs a fully-featured Internet Explorer instance, Kogan wrote. Users would be unaware of what was going on in the background.

Bedep also caused that hidden browser to navigate to custom-made websites stuffed with advertisements in order to increase ad impressions.

"The objective of ad fraud is to generate fake traffic to ads and receive compensation based on traffic volume," Kogan wrote. "Obviously, more compromised computers leads to more traffic directed to the ads which leads to more revenue for the fraudster."

Some of the infected computers then appear to have been directed to websites hosting other exploit kits such as Neutrino and Magnitude, loading yet more malware.

Those controlling Bedep "are trying to maximize their profit by selling traffic from compromised computers to other campaigners that seek to spread their own malware via Magnitude and Neutrino," Kogan wrote.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags trustwave

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?