Malvertising campaign in Google Search redirected users to tech support scam

Pierluigi Paganini June 06, 2017

Malicious ads in Google search results for the US retail giant Target redirected users to a tech support scam.

The malvertising campaign was first reported last week by a US user who posted his observations to a StackExchange thread and was then reported by

Just querying Google for the term “target,” users were displayed on the top right of the page of the results the malicious ads.

The bogus ads leverage a feature of  oogle Ads service that allows ad publishers to display a URL while redirecting users to another URL.

In the specific case, the rogue ad displayed the link “,” but users were redirected to “”


In the attack reported by the US users, when users clicked the malicious ad they were redirected to a tech support scam instead of the legitimate website

The landing page was a fake Microsoft tech support page urging users to call a phone number to remove a non-existent “HARDDISK_ROOTKIT_TROJAN_HUACK.EXE” file.

malvertising Google ADS

The landing page was registered to a Georgian man and was hosted on two IP addresses, 104.28.19[.]58 and  104.28.18[.]58], that were involved in the past in similar fraudulent activities, including tech support scams, malware hosting, and pharma spam.

According to VirusTotal logs the malvertising campaign also targeted Walmart users.

Unfortunately, such kind of attacks is not new for cybersecurity experts, in the past other malvertising campaigns hit Google.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Malicious ads, malvertising)

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