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Deceptive Advertisements: What they do and where they come from, (Wed, Jun 7th)

About a week ago, a reader asked for help with a nasty typo squatting incident:

The site,, at the time redirected to fake tech support sites. These sites typically pop up a message alerting the user of a made-up problem and offer a phone number for tech support.

Investigating the site, I found ads, all of which can be characterized as deceptive. In addition to offering tech support, some of the ads offered video players for download or even suggested that the user has to log in to the site, offering a made up login form. If a user clicks on these ads, the user is sent to a number of different redirects. For example:

For example: (URL parameters removed to make this more readable)

hxxp:// (URL the ad linked to)
hxxp:// (fake tech support page)


At the time, the ads were hosted at width:300px” />

Below this dialog, a hard to read disclaimer is displayed (I left the colors as is. width:300px” />

Virustotal identifies the resulting download as Adware. I didn width:300px” />

Now, these ads were after all displayed on my page, and I had an account set up with RevenueHits. So I decided to inquire about the deceptive ads I received:

I just started testing revenue hits, and all the ads I receive are downloads of fraudulent media players. Is there a way to filter these ads? Do you have a way to flag ads as inappropriate? thx.

The moment I submitted this request, I received the following (obviously automated) response:


Your account was automatically banned by our system, due to fraudulent traffic sources.

Please notice that once our system mark your traffic as fraud, there is nothing I can do to change it

Please check again all you traffic sources.


Support team

The ads continued to be displayed on my site. A business day later, I received a manual reply to my initial question:

Thank you for reaching out to us.

Our Design team is working these days on the diversity of our ads.

We are committed to achieve the highest performance as possible for you. Therefore, the ads you see today are the best performing ones on your traffic.

You can remove some of them from your site butnote that it might affect your results.

I still receive exclusively deceptive ads from RevenueHits. However, at least the results are not that bad. RevenueHits would pay me $0.36 for the one click through it counted. I haven-)

Johannes B. Ullrich, Ph.D., Dean of Research, SANS Technology Institute

(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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