A new blackmailing mail has targeted users of the Google advertising AdSense. The fraudulent email asks AdSense users to pay the blackmailers a certain amount in Bitcoin (BTC) to prevent an alleged attack that would lead to the blocking of their AdSense account. The security blog KrebsOnSecurity first reported on the blackmail e-mail on February 17. The fraudsters have targeted website operators who generate advertising revenue via Google AdSense and are now threatening to use an automated attack to have Google block or limit the use of their accounts, which would result in considerable losses. In the corresponding message it says:
“[…] Your AdSense restriction is caused by the fact that we are flooding your site with large amounts of fake page views that have a 100% bounce rate and consist of thousands of different IPs. This is a nightmare for any AdSense operator. We will also be instructing our bots to repeatedly display all their ad banners over various durations.”
Google rejects crypto-advertising
Among other things, in order to prevent attacks, as announced in the blackmail mail, Google last August introduced a system that is supposed to detect “invalid” page views even better and prevent them in advance. “This year we have further improved our system for detecting invalid page views so that it can detect them before the ads are displayed. This means that we can now only display ads if they are really relevant, to protect both advertisers and our users,” as Google explained at the time.
The search engine had already taken other security precautions for its banner ads in the past, which in turn have resulted in block chaining and crypto-currencies. In June 2018, for example, Google announced that in future, advertisements with a crypto reference would be prohibited.
Accordingly, Google had recently blacklisted the search term Ethereum (ETH) on the Google Ads platform. This step has already been officially confirmed, although it is said that the decision was made “completely independent of the product in question”.
Bitcoin as ransom
Meanwhile, Bitcoin is becoming increasingly interesting to criminals for ransom demands. In the Netherlands, for example, two letter bombs were sent at the beginning of February, whereupon the perpetrators demanded Bitcoin payments in order to prevent further bomb attacks.
In Thailand, Singapore-born Mark Cheng was kidnapped and his kidnappers demanded a ransom of 740,000 US dollars in Bitcoin for his release. After paying all his available assets, which amounted to only $46,000, Cheng was able to flee.