How hackers obtain user data using the Google Ads network?

Suji Sugathan
Feb 04, 2023

Hackers distributed malware through the Google advertisements network to steal user data.

Malvertising, a type of cyberattack, is significant because it makes use of virtualization technology, which enables malware to avoid being detected by antivirus software.

Malvertising: What is it?

Malvertising, often known as malicious advertising, is a category of cyberattack in which hackers spread malware by inserting malicious code into online advertisements. Both internet users and publishers have trouble identifying the corrupted adverts. Consumers receive these malicious ads through reputable advertising networks.

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How hackers are using Google ads network to steal users' data, ET CIO

How can hackers get hold of user data?

By using KoiVM virtualization technology, which enables malware to elude detection when it is installed, hackers are disseminating malicious installers. The operation codes of a programme are obscured by the KoiVM plugin, allowing the virtual machine (a computing resource that runs programmes and deploys apps using software rather than a real machine) only comprehends them.

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CoinStats - Google Ads Malware Used By Hackers To Steal D...

Obfuscation is the process of writing code that is challenging for both humans and computers to decipher. The virtual machine converts the operation codes back to their original form when the malicious code is launched, allowing the application to run.

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According to a recent study by SentinelLabs, virtualization frameworks like KoiVM obfuscate executables by substituting the original code, including NET Common Intermediate Language (CIL) instructions, with virtualized code that only the virtualization framework knows.

What Do Hacking And Malware Have To Do With Ad Fraud?

According to the paper, KoiVM virtualization is popular for hacking tools but is rarely used to propagate malware. When used maliciously, virtualization complicates malware detection and also reflects an effort to dodge static analysis tools.

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Abuse of Google search ads

The researchers assert that they have observed a rise in the usage of Google search advertisements to disseminate various infections during the past month. The fraudulent websites that pass for adverts use bogus digital signatures to deceive customers and evade detection by impersonating Microsoft, Acer, DigiCert, Sectigo, and AVG Technologies USA. 

  • Google ads network
  • Hackers are using Google ads
  • Common Intermediate Language
  • Google search ads

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