Malvertising Attack Matrix

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Detailing threat actors through Malvertising Activity

Our security team is constantly profiling the threat actors using different techniques and tactics to exploit and scam users via digital ads.

The Malvertising Attack Matrix is a way to communicate actionable threat intelligence to entities that are outside of the ad tech world and give them real, credible information on threats to their digital security.

Zirconium

eGobbler

ScamClub

DCCBoost

Tag Barnakle

Yosec

FizzCore

Initial Access

Execution

Persistence

Browser Exploitation

Credential Access

Cloaking

Defense Evasion

Landing Page

Impact

Filter by Threat Actors

[C100] Initial Access [C200] Execution [C300] Persistence [C400] Browser Exploitation [C500] Credential Access [C600] Cloaking [C700] Defense Evasion [C800] Landing Page [C900] Impact
[C101] Fake Advertising Agency

Fake Advertising Agency is an advertising agency that is owned by malicious operator for the purpose of establishing relationships with ad buying platforms (DSPs).

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[C201] JScript tag Injection

Specific to Internet Explorer legacy jscript.dll Javascript can be injected via script tag with language="Jscript.Encode" attribute set.

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[C301] Cloud Storage - Bucket

Buckets are cloud containers that stores user data. Often used to store and protect any amount of data for websites, mobiles apps for backup and restore.

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[C401] By-pass Popup Blocker

Popup Blocker bypass are browser exploits that circumvent the browser's built in pop-up protection.

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[C501] Cookie stealing

Cookie stealing is the ability for malvertisers to steal and use cookies from previously compromised hosts, for further exploitation attempts directly related to malvertising without needing user credentials.

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[C601] WebGL

WebGL APIs are heavily leveraged for device fingerprinting, because a device's graphics cards and their performance are highly variable and produce outputs that are in an entropy sweet spot.

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[C701] Code obfuscation

Code Obfuscation applies to a broad category of techniques and tactics that are employed by attackers in order to make their code hard to read by human analysts.

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[C801] Gift Card Scam

Gift Card Scams are landing pages that tell the victim they have won an e-commerce gift card, usually to a major retailer.

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[C901] Credential Theft

Credential Theft includes exfiltration of logins to third party services including but not limited to email providers, CRMs, banking, or any devices and/or services that might be found on a corporate intranet.

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[C102] Websites Targeting

Malvertisers may target specifically one or more websites based on their reputation, amount of traffic, or category.

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[C202] WebAssembly injection

Malvertisers relies on WASM by introducing it into the execution of a page, ad creative, or other resource when it has no place in the legitimate execution of the application or ad.

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[C302] CDN reverse proxies

A reverse proxy is a server that sits in front of web servers and forwards client (e.g. web browser) requests to those web servers.

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[C402] Same Origin Policy Bypass

CORS is a set of HTTP Header based security controls that allow developers to specify certain exemptions to the Same-Origin-Policy which is enforced by web browsers.

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[C502] Access Tokens theft

Access Token theft is the ability for malvertisers to steal and use access tokens to access different resources provided by a web site.

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[C602] User-Agent Fingerprinting

User-Agent Fingerprinting is a client-side check by which adversaries determine Browser types and version they might potentially be attacking.

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[C702] CDN usage

CDN usage is the practice of using reputable domains in order to conceal a threat, usually by operating under a subdomain of a legitimate website or a reputable CDN provider.

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[C802] Carrier Branded Scams

Carrier Branded Scams are landing pages where the victim is presented with a fake message from their local ISP.

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[C902] Denial of Service

Denial of Service or DOS is a category of techniques for making software or devices temporarily or permanently un-usable.

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[C103] Fake ad creative

Fake ad creative are display advertisements that are typically shown in standalone slots on websites and mobile apps, it is a great entry point for malvertisers.

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[C203] HTML DOM modification

DOM modification is the act of manipulating the DOM in an ad or on a website as part of the malware execution.

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[C303] Browser Extension

Malicious Browser extensions help attackers to achieve persistence on victim devices by enabling them to sit as a component that has access and visibility into the entirety of the browser's stack.

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[C403] Iframe Sandboxing bypass

Iframe Sandbox bypass are exploits that circumvent iframe sandbox attribute parameters, typically the "allow-top-navigation-by-user-activation" parameter.

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[C503] MSISDN harversting

The Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number (MSISDN) is an international mobile phone identifier.

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[C603] GeoIP check

GeoIP is commonly used as a server-side check consisting of determining the geographical location of a potential target based of the IP address.

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[C703] Anti-Devtools

Anti-Devtools techniques are employed by attackers in order to disrupt the debugging process of the malicious code when browser dev tools are detected.

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[C803] Crypto Mining

Crypto Mining is a CPU intensive process for mining cryptocurrency.

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[C903] Resource Hijacking

The traditional malware model considers Resource Hijacking to encompass any techniques that leverage access to victim's hardware or infrastructure in a disruptive way.

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[C104] Misconfigured Cloud Storage Buckets

Buckets are cloud containers that stores user data. Often used to store and protect any amount of data for websites, mobiles apps for backup and restore.

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[C204] Forceful Redirects

Forceful redirects are the technique by which malvertisers redirect victims to a malicious landing page through no action of their own.

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[C304] Browser Notifications

Browser Notifications and Push Notifications in particular are used by apps to send notices to subscribed users.

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[C404] Logic flaw

Logic flaws are bugs that exploitable due to application or business logic failures in businesses or applications.

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[C604] IP Targeting

IP targeting is a more fine-grained check than GeoIP check, consisting of determining if targets are using their home, datacenter, Enterprise, or 4G mobile connection.

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[C704] String Concatenation

String Concatenation is an obfuscation technique where strings are split into small chunks and added together so that the original strings will be difficult to search for during static analysis.

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[C804] Drive-by Downloads

A drive-by download attack refers to the unintentional download of malicious code in the form of malware, or PUP/PUAs with or without user interaction.

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[C904] Financial Loss

Financial Loss encompasses any attack whose impact results in lost money from the victim targeted by malvertisers.

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[C105] Application Vulnerability

Application Vulnerability is a technique that consist of the direct exploitation of a web application, specifically Advertising servers.

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[C205] PDF Redirect

PDF redirect is a redirect technique that utilizes a malicious PDF document which will redirect the victim to the attacker's URL when the document is opened in the browser.

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[C305] BackEnd as A Service

Backend as a Service, for example Firebase allows developers to create embeddable scripts and web applications that are hosted on google infrastructure.

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[C605] Passsive TCP/IP Fingerprinting

Passsive TCP/IP Fingerprinting is a server side technique used by Malvertisers consisting of passively sniffing the network and classifying targets hosts based on the observed traffic.

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[C705] Dom Traversal

The Document Object Model (DOM) is a standard convention for accessing and manipulating elements within HTML and XML documents.

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[C805] Exploit KIT

Exploit Kits are malicious web servers automatically chaining browser exploit in order to compromise victim hosts with a malware.

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[C106] Browser Notifications

Browsers notification API lets a web page or app send notifications that are displayed outside the page at the system level; this lets web apps send information to a user even if the application is idle or in the background.

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[C206] Click Jacking

Click jacking is a technique used by malvertisers in order to hijack the click action of a user to get them to click on an invisible element that is controlled by the attacker.

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[C306] Compromised websites

Compromised websites can be used to host malicious javascript code, that will be executed during malveritising redirect chains.

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[C606] OS Fingerprinting

OS Fingerprinting is a check used to accurately determine the Operating system and its version of a target user.

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[C706] Standard Library Hijacking

Library Hijacking can take on many forms as either an attacker vector or a concealment technique.

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[C806] Browser Locker

Browser locker is a set of techniques used by malvertisers consisting of "freezing" the browser, in full-screen, and showing a warning message asking the victim either to pay a fine, or to call a tech support number in order to unfreeze the browser.

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[C107] Calendar Injection

Calendar Injection is a technique where fake calendar invites are sent to victims in order to trigger certain actions.

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[C207] Web Socket

The WebSocket protocol, described in the specification RFC 6455 provides a way to exchange data between browser and server via a persistent connection.

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[C307] Fake Advertising Agency

Fake Advertising Agency is an advertising agency that is owned by malicious operator for the purpose of establishing relationships with ad buying platforms (DSPs).

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[C607] HTTP Fingerprinting

HTTP Fingerprinting is a server side technique which consist of checking the HTTP protocol headers.

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[C707] Reputable Ad servers

Reputable Ad Servers encompass any ad serving platforms whose ad serving domains are "house hold names" in the Ad Tech industry.

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[C807] Browser Extension

Browser Extensions are software add-ons that extend web browser capabilities.

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[C608] TLS Fingerprinting

TLS Fingerprinting a technique used by Malvertisers at the server-side of the TLS-connection.

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[C708] Steganography

Steganography is the practice of concealing data inside files - typically images or binaries.

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[C808] Cryptocurrency Scam

Bitcoin Scam landing pages usually present outlandish investment opportunities that are backed by fake celebrity endorsements.

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[C609] Fake AD creatives

Fake AD creatives are copy/pasted legitimate AD creatives that are used by malvertisers as a pretext for them to appear legitimate in the eyes of ad platforms.

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[C709] Copycat Sites

Copycat Sites are used by malvertisers to establish their fake brands so that when their campaigns go through traditional Ad Tech quality controls, they look like real advertisers.

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[C809] Fake Software Updates

Fake Software Updates landing pages that lure victims into installing an application under the guise that their current software is out of date.

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[C610] Fake Landing Pages

Fake Landing Pages [C610] are display ad destinations that exist only to make the decoy ad seem convincing.

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[C710] Fake HTML5 Creative

HTML5 Creatives are usually dynamic ads that consist of largely pure HTML and Javascript.

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[C810] Tech Support Scam

Tech Support Scam landing pages are often deployed in conjunction with Browser Locking techniques or other Nagware.

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[C611] Hardware Concurrency

Hardware Concurrency is a client-side check using the browser API that allows attackers to fingerprint how many CPU cores a target device has.

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[C711] Domain typosquatting

Typo domains are a common tool in the cybercrime pipeline, where at least one character different than a trusted domain.

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[C811] Giveaway scam

We generalize these landing pages as Free iPhone Scams, but they often include a multitude of other products or product giveaways including tablets, computers, and other electronics or highend items.

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[C612] Browser Objects

Browser Objects are any objects that are native to a browser's implementation of JavaScript and/or the many APIs available to browsers.

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[C712] Homoglyph

Homoglyphs are characters that appear the same to the naked eye, but have a different underlying code.

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[C812] Investment Scam

Investment Scams landing pages usually present outlandish investment opportunities that are backed by faked celebrity endorsements (pre-landers).

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[C613] Time-based

Time-based cloaking consist of hiding malicious activity and only activate it during specific time slots.

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[C713] Zero width space chars

Similar to Homoglyphs, there exist "invisible" characaters which are symbols that have zero width.

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[C614] Abuse third party bot & proxy detection

Ads verification vendors are using bots also known as "scanners" to monitor the quality of the ads served on a specific URL or by specific ad tag and alerting when violation is found.

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[C714] OCR Distruption

OCR (optical character recognition) disruption is a technique for thwarting in-image text analysis.

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[C715] Security Vendor Detection

Malvertising security vendors typically have a client-side component for blocking malvertisements.

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[C716] Mutex

Technique used to avoid executing the payload more than one time.

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