European visitors to the Yahoo homepage are furious after an unknown number of computers were infected with malware from virus-laden ads. According to a statement by Yahoo concerning the matter, “From December 31 to January 3 on our European sites, we served some advertisements that did not meet out editorial guidelines – specifically they spread malware.” This lapse in editorial management once again lands Yahoo's public image in hot water.
In the attack, several PC computers were transformed into bitcoin miners without the knowledge or consent of the user. This particular type of malware is a huge drain on computing resources, and wormed its way into unsuspecting European computers by attacking flaws in the installed version of Java. As of now, it appears that only European computers were affected, and that Apple Macs and mobile devices were safe from the infection.
Yahoo has previously been criticized for ending their telecommuting program, and the fact that CEO Stephanie Mayer installed a large nursery in the main Yahoo offices to watch her baby during work hours while denying employees the same privilege. Now, Yahoo is receiving flak again for not doing more to aid users infected by their faulty advertisements. “We will continue to monitor and block any advertisements being used for this activity,” is all users have to go on, followed by “We will post more information for our users shortly.”
To make things worse, Yahoo was allegedly warned of these attacks in late December by security research firm Light Cyber. According to them, the computers not only get their systems clogged by these cyber-attacks, but other malware like ZeuS attempts to steal banking information, or hijacks the user's browser to click on ads to channel income towards bogus website owners.
In some of the worst instances, criminals are able to install a program called Cryptolocker, which encrypts user's files and demands a ransom for their return. In most iterations of the program, users are asked for around $2,000, or the price of two bitcoins.
Edited by Cassandra Tucker