An extortion email campaign threatens to bombard websites using AdSense with bot driven traffic. Thus, it would trigger Google’s anti-fraud systems.
Brian Krebs, journalist and researcher, received the info from a website owner claiming he had received such a threat. According to the source, the extortionists demanded $5000 in Bitcoin in order not to bombard the site with bot driven traffic. They claim this would force Google to suspend the owner’s AdSense account. So, the owner could not take benefit of the valuable advertising revenue.
“An ad serving limit will be placed on your publisher account and all the revenue will be refunded to advertisers,” the email informed. This would mean that the owners might lose one of the main sources of profit from their websites. The attackers claim that AdSense would lift the ban only after one month, and threaten that they could flood the site again with bad traffic. So, the threaten that the second ban from AdSense would be permanent.
According to Google, such threats are still quite rare. Moreover, the company owns all the necessary tools to detect and prevent them from succeeding. So, it urged the anyone who has been subject to such threats to fill in an online form and visit its help page on sabotage. Also, Jake Moore, who is a cybersecurity specialist for ESET, said people should never pay any extortionists. “There is no guarantee that this will stop the traffic.” Moreover, Moore warns that the cybercriminals may place the people’s names on a list of those who can be fulled. Then, they might try to get higher payments from those. Thus, he believes that all the owners that are in such a situation should report the cases directly to the police. Also, he urges the potential victims to never communicate with the attackers.