Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security

11/25/2019
11:01 AM
Dark Reading
Dark Reading
Products and Releases
50%
50%

Browser Notifications Scams Tripled in First Three Quarters of 2019

Woburn, MA – November 25, 2019 – Fraudulent browser push notifications as a means of phishing and advertising are gaining popularity, with the share of users hit by the problem growing month-on-month this year. Kaspersky research revealed that the monthly number of affected users has grown from 1,722,545 in January to 5,544,530 in September 2019. In total, during the first nine months of 2019, Kaspersky products protected more than 14 million users from attempts to allow websites to show unwanted notifications. Given that essentially every web user is a potential victim, this threat, although unsophisticated, requires additional attention.

Browser push notifications were introduced several years ago as a useful tool that kept readers informed with regular updates, but today they are often used to bombard website visitors with unsolicited advertisements or even encourage them to download malicious software. Useful, user-friendly features, such as push notifications, are easy-to-use instruments for scams based on social engineering techniques, and therefore their growing popularity is not entirely unexpected. In light of the recent calendar invitations scam detected by Kaspersky, the company’s experts decided to dive deeper into push notification scams and phishing to find out how this tool can be abused.

Since a user’s consent is required in order to start sending notifications, attackers have come up with multiple, often out-of-the-box ways to trick and force people to sign up for subscriptions. The detected options include:

 

-          Passing subscription consent off as another action, such as a CAPTCHA

-          Switching the “accept” and “decline” buttons on subscription alerts mid-action

-          Showing notifications from phishing copies of popular websites

-          Showing fraudulent subscribe pop-ups on websites

 

Number of Kaspersky products users that have been hit by ad and scam push notifications,

January – September 2019

After gaining a user’s consent, attackers start bombarding them with messages. The least harmful (and yet the most popular) options are clickbait ads on sensitive social topics, while others include scam notifications – like lottery wins, offers of money in exchange for completing a survey or something similar. Schemes that are more sophisticated are targeted at milking money out of users using phishing techniques. 

A common scheme uses messages disguised as system notifications, such as virus infection alerts. These redirect users to phishing copies of trusted websites and then prompt users to download various paid “PC cleaning” utilities. However, the potential of push notifications being used for such scams is not limited to just that.

“We have seen a rise in push notifications being abused, as attackers continue to creatively adapt new technologies in order to trick users. Because this feature is so widespread and easy to take advantage of through social engineering schemes, we have seen a rapid growth in the number of affected users. Push notifications are a very useful tool for users that help them stay on top of important things that interest them. Yet, as with anything on the internet, users have to remain attentive and cautious when interacting with pop-ups and only allow push notifications if they are completely sure the alerts are useful and come from trusted sources,” said Artemy Ovchinnikov, security researcher at Kaspersky.

To avoid receiving annoying notifications or scam ads, users can follow a few simple recommendations:

·         Where possible, block all subscription offers, unless they come from popular and trusted websites. Remain vigilant to ensure you are not redirected to a fake website. 

·         If you’re unable to avoid an unwanted subscription, block it in the browser settings.

·         Start using a reliable security solution, like Kaspersky Security Cloud, that blocks ad and scam push subscription offers in browsers, can delete subscriptions that have already been approved, and has an anti-phishing feature.

Read more on the topic in the Kaspersky Unwanted Notifications report on Securelist.

 

 

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/6/2020
Russian Cyber Gang 'Cosmic Lynx' Focuses on Email Fraud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/7/2020
Another COVID-19 Side Effect: Rising Nation-State Cyber Activity
Stephen Ward, VP, ThreatConnect,  7/1/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15600
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
An issue was discovered in CMSUno before 1.6.1. uno.php allows CSRF to change the admin password.
CVE-2020-15599
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Victor CMS through 2019-02-28 allows XSS via the register.php user_firstname or user_lastname field.
CVE-2020-8916
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
A memory leak in Openthread's wpantund versions up to commit 0e5d1601febb869f583e944785e5685c6c747be7, when used in an environment where wpanctl is directly interfacing with the control driver (eg: debug environments) can allow an attacker to crash the service (DoS). We recommend updating, or to res...
CVE-2020-12821
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
Gossipsub 1.0 does not properly resist invalid message spam, such as an eclipse attack or a sybil attack.
CVE-2020-15008
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-07
A SQLi exists in the probe code of all Connectwise Automate versions before 2020.7 or 2019.12. A SQL Injection in the probe implementation to save data to a custom table exists due to inadequate server side validation. As the code creates dynamic SQL for the insert statement and utilizes the user su...