10 Nov 2011

Seven people charged in internet ad scam

Computers across the world have been affected by the hijacking of advertisements on websites, which snuck harmful malware on people's computers without them knowing it. Users should have updated antivirus software on their computer to help avoid harmful viruses.

Six men were charged in Estonia for what the U.S. attorney's office calls “a massive and sophisticated Internet fraud scheme." The New York Times said there is a Russian supect in the case who is at large. The scheme included malicious software that infected 4 million people, with a half-million people in the U.S affected.

“We believe this criminal case is the first of its kind and arises from a cyber infrastructure of the first order,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, according to IT World. “The defendants were cyber-bandits who hijacked those computers at will, controlling and masquerading as legitimate Internet websites.”

Prosecutors say the attack involved redirecting clicks onto search results to websites controlled by defendants, which would net them a referral fee. The group would also swap advertisements on websites for ones that would generate money, such as ESPN and the Wall Street Journal. Users should be aware of scams such as these and have an antivirus program loaded and ready to go.