Today a client, knowing my background in IT, reached out to me and asked me if his Samsung Galaxy Android phone was infected, or if the DrudgeReport.com was trying to install malware (malicious software) on it.
What is the Drudge Report?
This is a website run by Matt Drudge. The site links to other stories around the web. It is a very powerful and heavily trafficked website that millions of people visit regularly. If you’re in to Internet Marketing at all, you are familiar with this website. Some would call the Drudge Report a “conservative news aggregation website”. You can visit the Drudge Report here.
Is the Drudge Report Installing Malware on Android Phones?
I fired up my Galaxy S7 in Incognito mode and saw no problems. At first. Upon reading some of the headlines about Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, I was suddenly greeted with this pop up on my vibrating Android device, a “warning” from amisk.com, and it says I have been visiting naughty websites and that my phone is about to be destroyed. Haha! This sounds stupid but you would not believe how many people will continue down this road…
I clikcked ok and I was greeted with this next screen which reads “Your phone has (13)serious virus…. If you do not clear the virus, your phone will be severely damaged”:
The call to action here is the “now remove the virus” button.
I should point out that on Android devices you can install apps and software from anywhere on the web, not just the Play Store, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you are going to infect your phone with Malware.
Why is Drudge Report trying to install Malware on my cell phone? (or are they a victim?)
In Drudge’s defense, they likely have no idea that this is taking place on their website. Popular websites are always the target of people trying to install malicious apps and software, that way they can infect the most devices as quickly as possible.
I did not dig into this but I suspect that since the pop-up only happens occasionally that the malware is being served via advertisements on DrudgeReport.com. In fact, this type of infection is sometimes called “malvertising”. Furthermore, the Drudge Report utilizes an ad network called InterMarkets.
A quick search of malvertising intermarkets drudge brings me right to this article which breaks down previous malvertising on Drudge Report in 2015, 2013, and 2010.
This can happen anywhere
This issue is not unique to Drudge Report. If you suddenly see a pop up on your phone which says you need to install something, close the window or shut your phone off.
Do not click through to additional pages, and do not install any software or “anti-virus 360” or anything like that.
If you DO want an antivirus, check out ESET Mobile Security & Antivirus; it is what people like me use on multiple platforms.
If you see a problem like this, report it to the webmaster.
Update 4/7/2016: I just noticed there is a way to email the Drudge Report and I’m sending them a link to this article now.
Update 4/8/2016: My email to Drudge Report bounced back. 🙁