A malicious Home Depot advertising campaign is redirect Google search visitors to tech support scams.
Malicious Google search ads are nothing new, with campaigns for Amazon Prime, PayPal, and eBay seen in the past. As these ads look like legitimate campaigns for the company, including showing their standard URL when you hover over them, it is common for people to be tricked into clicking on them.
Yesterday, BleepingComputer was notified by someone who fell for a malicious Home Depot advertisement currently displayed in the top spot of a Google search.
As a test, BleepingComputer searched for ‘home depot’ and was shown the malicious advertisement on our first try. Even worse, the ad is the top spot in the research result, making it more likely to be clicked.
As you can see below, the ad clearly states it’s for www.homedepot.com, and hovering over it shows the site’s legitimate destination URL.
However, when visitors click on the ad, they will be redirected through various ad services until eventually they are redirected to a tech support scam.
Ultimately, the visitor will land at a page showing an incredibly annoying “Windows Defender – Security Warning’ tech support scam. This scam will repeatedly open the Print dialog box, as shown below, which prevents the visitor from easily closing the page.
To make it more difficult for security professionals to diagnose these ads, it appears that they only redirect to the scam once every 24 hours to the same IP address. Once a tech support scam is shown by clicking on the ad, subsequent clicks bring visitors to the legitimate site.
Unfortunately, many people, especially older people, who are not comfortable with computers, fall for these scams and call the number thinking it is a legitimate alert.
In some cases, the caller is tricked into allowing remote access to their computer where the scammers install programs like Lock My PC. The scammers then state that the caller must purchase a support package to unlock Windows.
To avoid these types of ads, users are advised to pay more attention to Google search results to not click on ads instead of the legitimate search page result for the company.