Microsoft sues over "malvertising"

Posted by Nigel Constantine

Software giant Microsoft is suing the writers of scareware code of the type that hit the New York Times over the weekend.

Although Microsoft does not know the names of the code writers it is hoping that armed with a court order it can pull server records and hunt the hackers down like a grey wolf in Montana.

Malvertisements are online ads that appear to be legitimate but either lure the person to a deceptive webpage or attack their computers.

A malicious ad took over The New York Times Web site this past weekend, popping up a window that showed a bogus virus scan, then prompted users to buy antivirus software  to fix a problem which did not exist.

In that case the creator posed as Vonage and persuaded NYTimes.com to run ads that initially did appear as real Vonage adverts but were converted to the attack site.

Tim Cranton, associate general counsel for Microsoft said that the lawsuits, filed in King County Superior Court are the first against malvertisors

The lawsuits name "Soft Solutions," "Direct Ad," "qiweroqw.com," "ITmeter" and "ote2008.info".  It accuses them of distributing malicious software or present deceptive Web pages via malvertising. Microsoft is involved because the defendants used Microsoft AdManager to manage their phony ad campaigns.  It is also important to knock this sort of scam on the head because online advertising helps keep the Internet up and running, Cranton wrote. .