Estonians Charged For $14 Million in Click Fraud – Is Your Computer Infected?

November 22, 2011

In a particularly advanced two prong click fraud scheme, 7 men are charged with infecting 4 million computers worldwide – 500,000 in the U.S. alone. Once infected, the criminals would redirect users search results to websites that would pay the criminals a referral fee, so the more searches they redirected, the more money they made. The second method used was to replace legitimate ads on websites with ads from companies that paid for referring clicks.

In a statement by Janice Fedarcyk, assistant director in charge of the FBI New York office, “They victimized legitimate Website operators and advertisers who missed out on income through click hijacking and ad replacement fraud.”

Hijacked sites included The Wall Street Journal and ESPN. An article in the New York Times included the following illustration of how ESPN ads were swapped; the page shown on the left has a legitimate Dr. Pepper ad, while the ad on the right is for a timeshare company that paid for clicks.

Called the biggest cybercriminal takedown in history, the FBI worked with international law enforcement agencies, security companies, and security experts for over two years to crack the case.

This malware that infected both the Windows and Mac operating systems did not target consumer information; it was designed to defraud advertisers and website companies, but in order to avoid detection by antivirus software the malware blocked antivirus updates. This means that infected users were (and are) vulnerable to other malware.

What this means to you:

Although the FBI has replaced the malicious servers involved, infected users remain infected with the DNSChanger malware, and any other malware that was able to crawl into computers while security software updates were blocked. If you’ve seen unlikely ads or suspect your machine may be infected, the FBI has created a website that will help you detect the malware and get rid of it.



New FBI App Helps Parents When Kids go Missing

August 9, 2011

Remember turning around in the store and suddenly your child wasn’t there? Usually you find them within moments, but that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach reminds you that not every parent will be so lucky.  Every year thousands of children become victims of crime – whether it’s through kidnappings, violent attacks, or sexual abuse, according to the FBI’s Crimes Against Children website.

To help reduce these crimes, the FBI has just launched a new free Child ID app (currently only for iPhone users, the app will be available for other phones soon) that provides users with an easy way to electronically store photos and crucial information about your child so you can immediately provide the most important information to law enforcement should your child go missing.

When every minute counts the immediacy of access to this information is critical.  If you have to first go home to get a photo of your child, or other information, vital time is lost.

Until needed, your child’s information isn’t shared

The Child ID app stores the data locally on your phone – nowhere else – unless you decide to share it either by showing pictures and information on your phone, or by emailing the information to authorities.

In addition to providing the ability to store images and information vital to an investigation the app includes advice to help you keep your children safe and specific guidance on what to do in those first few crucial hours after a child goes missing. Law enforcement can then issue an AMBER Alert to serve as an instant call to action for everyone in the immediate area to be on the lookout for your child.

Spread the word

Fortunately, relatively few parents will ever experience the abduction of their child, but this is literally the best life insurance you can have if you are among the unlucky few. Every parent with young children should have this app installed, filled in and kept up to date.  And everyone who reads this article should spread the word to everyone they know with young children, and everyone who spends time with young children – like grandparents, babysitters, or aunts and uncles.

To echo the FBI “Put your child’s safety in your own hands. Download the FBI’s Child ID app today”.  If you don’t use iPhone, keep checking the FBI’s Crimes Against Children website to learn when your phone has this capability.