Botnets Used For Click Fraud

Vision abstract redBotnets “can allegedly generate more than $6 million a month through bogus clicks on online adverts.” Cybercriminals are very smart in their use, and cross use, of the tools they have to commit money-making crime.

Bear with me while I give you some definitions you may need to understand this activity. If you don’t like my plain talk explanations, you can click on the links to get the Webopedia definitions.

Botnets, the use of large numbers of unknowing and innocent computers to commit crime, are being used by cybercriminals for click fraud. Click fraud is a crime involving the legitimate Internet marketing practice called affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing simply put, is when a website owner allows advertising on his/her website and is paid for doing so by receiving a fee for every time a visitor to the website clicks on the ad. Click fraud is the act of generating bogus clicks in order to generate revenue from the pay-per-click fees.

Okay, definitions out of the way, now back to using botnets for committing click fraud. Botnets, because of their usually large size: some consist of millions of computers, seem to be a perfect tool for committing click fraud. They can be programmed to go to websites owned by cyber crooks that contain affiliate ads and click on them to generate pay-per-click revenue for the website…and the cyber crooks who own it. The bots have no intention of purchasing the products or services that the ad is promoting…hence the fraudulent act.

But why use something as large and complex as a botnet? Why not write a local program that will do the clicking? Because the affiliate marketing systems check for that kind of activity and would take action against the website owner. Using a botnet, however, would fool the affiliate marketing system’s surveillance for click fraud into thinking the clicks came from millions of different computers (they did, the botnet) and that therefore they must be legitimate clicks. It’s amazing to me how smart the average cybercriminal is these days. Hey, I never said they were dumb…not by a long shot. I’m just wondering what their next use of botnets will be…hmmm.

Reference: Naked Security article

Be very careful…it’s dangerous out there.

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Filed under Cybercrime, Internet Security, Warning

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