There’s a new extortion scam that targets Google AdSense serving websites and demands Bitcoin (BTC) in exchange for the prevention of an attack. This attack, according to the extortionist, would lead to the AdSense account of targeted users to be suspended or banned.
Pay up, or we’ll make Google ban your ads: email-based extortion scam threatens to flood Web sites with junk ad clicks and force Google’s automated fraud detection systems to limit or ban the site’s AdSense account https://t.co/X9z5HSpMjG pic.twitter.com/qV6lqgKLwG
— briankrebs (@briankrebs) February 17, 2020
The security investigation and news blog KrebsOnSecurity has firstly reported the email-based malicious scheme on February 17, after a few website owners have received this message:
“Very soon the warning notice from above will appear at the dashboard of your AdSense account undoubtedly! This will happen due to the fact that we’re about to flood your site with huge amount of direct bot generated web traffic with 100% bounce ratio and thousands of IP’s in rotation — a nightmare for every AdSense publisher.
More also we’ll adjust our sophisticated bots to open, in endless cycle with different time duration, every AdSense banner which runs on your site.”
$5,000 in BTC for the Attack to Be Deterred
The cyber attackers are asking for $5,000 in BTC for their attack to be halted. The website owner who shared with KrebsOnSecurity the message said the invalid traffic in their AdSense statistics has considerably increased. Google referred to the scam as a classic threat of sabotage in which fraudsters are trying to trigger enforcement actions against publishers by sending invalid traffic to their ads.
Google Has a Very Strict Policy Regarding Its Ads…
The news about the malicious attack comes soon after Google has made its policy towards ads stricter. The AdSense team said ads will no longer be shown before invalid clicks get to happen. Here’s exactly how Google explained this:
“This year, we’re enhancing our defenses even more by improving the systems that identify potentially invalid traffic or high risk activities before ads are served. These defenses allow us to limit ad serving as needed to further protect our advertisers and users.”
… and Has a Hard Stance on Cryptocurrency
Not too long ago, Google has expressed its hostility when it comes to cryptocurrency and decentralization. In June 2018, it announced that it’s going to ban ads related to crypto and that it has made an update to its Financial Services policy. Recently, it has put keywords containing Ethereum (ETH) on a blacklist for its advertising platform.