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Scammers Trick Tech Blog Gizmodo Into Flogging Scareware

Days after the Guardian Jobs' security scare, the hugely popular gadget blog Gizmodo has been fallen victim to the activities of cyber fraudsters, after the website admitted that it was running several ads laced with malware content last week.

The website, which attracts more than 3 million visitors every day, has extended its apologies to the users for running ads that had viruses and malware hidden in them.

In an apology issued on the website, Brian Lam, Gizmodo’s editorial director, quoted: “Guys, I’m really sorry but we had some malware running on our site in ad boxes for a little while last week on Suzuki ads. They somehow fooled our ad sales team through an elaborate scam”.

However, he further asserted that the issue has already been resolved, and that only a few users could have been impacted by the scam. The hack attempted to trick users into clicking on to the adverts displaying bogus antivirus software.

According to security vendor Sophos, the software, which is also referred to as ‘scareware’, tries to trick users into believing that their computer is infested with some malware, and subsequently convinces them into purchasing the fake antivirus software.

The fraudster then gets the access to the user’s credit card info. Incidentally, the New York Times website also underwent a similar hacking attack, when a group of hackers bought advertising space by masquerading as an internet telephone firm Vonage.

Our Comments

Gizmodo did the right thing by issuing a straight, non-convoluted apology to its users. The site has grown from strength to strength and it is unlikely that the malware issue will be having any negative impact on its page views. That said, Gizmodo might not be the only website that fell for this scam and other affected website might not be as apologetic as Gizmodo.

Related Links

Gizmodo tricked into serving scareware-laced adverts (opens in new tab)

(ComputerWeekly)

Gizmodo falls victim to malware sting (opens in new tab)

(TechWatch)

Gizmodo says sorry for malware suckerpunch (opens in new tab)

(The Register)

Gizmodo, world's biggest gadget website, hit by malware in ad (opens in new tab)

(Guardian)

Scareware launched from tech blog (opens in new tab)

(BBC)

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.