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  • Patient Hackers Use Outdated Domains to Carry Out Ad Fraud


    Long exposure domains bypass security measures and target specific victims.

    Confiant researchers have discovered that a very patient group of hackers are using outdated domains to bypass security tools and run fraudulent campaigns.

    During the CashRewindo campaign, cybercriminals inject malicious code into online ads on legitimate websites to direct site visitors to pages that may install malware or scam crypto investments.

    Typically, scammers who run malicious ad campaigns spin the domain and get it up and running quickly. But CashRewindo uses domains that were registered many years ago and have remained dormant.

    Confiant experts attributed 486 domains to hackers, some of them were registered in 2006, but have not been activated so far. Others were activated a few weeks after registration.

    The researchers suggest that either the attackers buy domains in the markets or wait until they become obsolete. This allows hackers to bypass security systems that classify domains as trustworthy due to the time they were registered. Older domains with no history of malicious activity are considered trusted and are less likely to be considered suspicious.

    Attackers rely on more than just domain age to avoid detection. Hackers also switch between fraudulent ads and harmless language to avoid triggering "profanity" detection tools. At the beginning of the campaign, CashRewindo uses innocuous ads and then switches to call-to-action ads.

    Attackers also place a small red circle in the image to disable computer vision detection tools.


    Confiant recorded over 1.5 million CashRewindo malicious ad impressions in 12 months, with over 75% coming from Windows devices. The group's attacks affected more than 100 countries in Europe, America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Most of the attacks affected the countries of Eastern Europe. According to experts, CashRewindo's malicious ad campaigns target specific regions using the local language, currency, and photos posted on the page.

    A user not from the target "audience" when clicking on the ad is redirected to a harmless legitimate site. And targeted victims, upon clicking the button, run malicious JavaScript code, which is another way to evade detection. The victim is then redirected to a fraudulent investment platform.

    Cybersecurity researchers at cybersecurity company Tanium Melissa Bishoping said defending against such a campaign requires a combination of tools, from next-generation firewalls and DNS filtering to email threat protection and threat intelligence channels.

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