Gizmodo hit by malware adverts

Filed Under: Malware

Gizmodo logo
Gizmodo, one of the most popular technology and gadget blogs on the internet, has warned that it was distributing malicious adverts to its millions of readers last week, putting them at risk of infection.

In a statement on its website, Gizmodo's Brian Lam apologised to users who may have visited the site and had their PCs attacked:

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. It's taken care of now, and only a few people should have been affected, but this isn't something we take lightly as writers, editors and tech geeks. (And we would have noticed sooner except everyone on staff is on OS X or Linux for production machines.) Everything should be cleared up but you should be checking "qegasysguard.exe" if you're experiencing random popups. Be careful, load up some antivirus and make sure your system is clean. I'm sorry.

Gizmodo is one of the biggest blogs in the world, boasting an average 3.1 million page views every day - but it's not the first widely read website to be hit by malicious adverts (a phenomenon described recently by Google as "malvertising")

For instance, just last month the New York Times suffered from a similar attack, after a gang of hackers purchased ad space posing as internet telephone company Vonage. Visitors to the New York Times website who were served the poisoned advert saw pop-up messages warning them that their computer had been infected, and urging them to install fake anti-virus software (also known as scareware).

Unfortunately Gizmodo hasn't told its readers the precise name of the malware that was spreading via the bogus Suzuki adverts it was delivering - but it seems likely (as in the New York Times case) that they were related to scareware products.

I'm rather disappointed that Gizmodo doesn't offer more information about the threat, or some links to anti-virus products that may help its readers check and clean-up their computers. Instead, they make a rather snotty remark about how they didn't notice the infection themselves as they are running Mac and Linux computers.

That doesn't really show a good level of customer care or respect for much of their readership.

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About the author

Graham Cluley is an award-winning security blogger, and veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.