Malvertising Campaign Abuses Google’s DoubleClick to Deliver Cryptocurrency Miners
by Chaoying Liu and Joseph C. Chen
On January 24, 2018, we observed that the number of Coinhive web miner detections tripled due to a malvertising campaign. We discovered that advertisements found on high-traffic sites not only used Coinhive (detected by Trend Micro as JS_COINHIVE.GN), but also a separate web miner that connects to a private pool. Attackers abused Google’s DoubleClick, which develops and provides internet ad serving services, for traffic distribution. Data from the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network shows affected countries include Japan, France, Taiwan, Italy, and Spain. We have already disclosed our findings to Google.
We detected an almost 285% increase in the number of Coinhive miners on January 24. We started seeing an increase in traffic to five malicious domains on January 18. After closely examining the network traffic, we discovered that the traffic came from DoubleClick advertisements.
An analysis of the malvertisement-riddled pages revealed two different web miner scripts embedded and a script that displays the advertisement from DoubleClick. The affected webpage will show the legitimate advertisement while the two web miners covertly perform their task. We speculate that the attackers’ use of these advertisements on legitimate websites is a ploy to target a larger number of users, in comparison to only that of compromised devices. The traffic involving the abovementioned cryptocurrency miners has since decreased after January 24.
Figure 1. Activity of the malvertising campaign from January 18-24
Figure 2. Injection flow between legitimate website and advertisement
Figure 3. Advertisement embedded with a web miner and script to receive the ad
Figure 4. Comparing the modified web miner (left) and the original Coinhive web miner (right)
Figure 5. Details of the setting of the private web miner
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Indicators of Compromise (IoC)
|SHA256 (detected as JS_COINHIVE.GN)|
|api[.]l33tsite[.]info||Private Webminer Domain|
|ws[.]l33tsite[.]info||Private Webminer Domain|