Malware virus on Yahoo ad infects millions

Popular search engine Yahoo has distributed malware to almost 2 million European users. An unknown group hijacked Yahoo’s advertising network by making some of the ads malicious. If clicked, the advertisements redirect users to websites that will install bitcoin mining software, as well as a host of other viruses, on their computer.

This began on December 30 and with the sheer number of users on Yahoo, the virus was able to infect 27,000 computers every hour. However, once Yahoo became more aware of what happened, the number has decreased steadily and the ad has since been removed.

In cases like this, the attacks are usually because the network has been hacked but it looks in this case that the culprits simply submitted the malware as ordinary ads to Yahoo and it went under the radar.

Note that Mac and mobile users are safe as well as users in North America.

Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoins are basically a digital currency based on encryption that can be bought with or sold for real money. If somebody wanted to become a bitcoin miner, it is recommended that they buy special hardware such as an ASIC miner because otherwise the mining software will use up all the power of their graphics card and processer, leaving their computer to run very slowly.

The point of this scam is to steal the power of other people’s computers so the culprits do not have to pay for their own hardware or slow down their own machines. They then harvest the bitcoins for themselves which they can then sell for real money. This in turn leads to more profit because they did not have to spend anything initially so it is fair to say we can expect more attacks like this one in the future.

The bitcoin mining malware seems to have been the main focus but the ad potentially installed other viruses such as ZeuS which attempts to steal banking information and Andromeda which makes your PC useable by third parties and even CryptoLocker, the virus that encrypts all the users’ files and then sells it back to them.

How to Avoid Viruses like this one

To be fair, there are so many ads on Yahoo that they are simply not able or willing to check them all for viruses and you’ll have to do your part in making sure your computer is safe.

This particular malware worked by targeting flaws in Java so if you have a Java client you should remove it as it is well known for being a target for malware (Note that JavaScript is a different language, do not disable it).

Always be careful about what you click on because if this has proved anything, it’s that viruses can infiltrate even the most well-established websites and lastly, always keep your anti-virus software up to date.

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