A cyber security firm has uncovered a new malware framework believed to have generated over one billion fake Google Adsense ad impressions in the past three months.
US firm Flashpoint released the findings, revealing the bug had not only generated fake Google Ad impressions, but also fake likes on YouTube videos.
“A newly discovered malware framework is responsible for more than one billion fraudulent ad impressions in the past three months, generating its operators significant Google AdSense revenue on a monthly basis,” said Flashpoint’s Jason Reaves and Joshua Platt.
“The framework is designed to pad statistics on social sites and ad impressions, creating revenue for its operators who are using a botnet to attack the content and advertising platforms by spreading the malware and targeting browsers including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Yandex’s browser.
“Content producers benefit financially from higher counts, which can lead to some unscrupulous behaviour.”
How does it work?
The malware sets itself up on user’s devices as a scheduled task and then steals browser login credentials and cookies.
It then places the adverts in browser sessions or runs scripts to generate fake traffic without the user realising.
“Most of the code in the framework is related to ad fraud and includes scripts that search and replace ad-related code on web pages [as well as] code for reporting clicks and other data to the command-and-control infrastructure,” said Reaves and Platt.
Flashpoint also found most of the fake Youtube likes are related to Russian political video, in what could be a hint to where the malware originates from.
There is also a large ‘blacklist’ of websites the bug does not infect, mostly Google domains and Russian websites, which the researchers suggest is due to the risk of “throwing off the impressions”.
Kargo has today announced several major growth milestones across the APAC region for the first half of 2021, more than doubling H1 revenue year-over-year with 115 per cent growth. Kargo also ran 41 per cent more campaigns in the region than in H1 2020 and the average campaign size increased by 32 per cent over […]
Hootsuite has today announced its acquisition of Heyday, a Montreal-based conversational AI platform that enables brands to deliver personalised customer experiences through 1:1 messaging conversations. Commerce is rapidly moving onto social and messaging platforms. Hootsuite, a pioneer in the social media management category, has the largest customer base in the industry and with this acquisition […]
Moira Geddes, founder and director of independent food publication EATIVITY has been handpicked by IAB Australia to become the first ever micro-publisher to take part in its Mentorship Program, highlighting the important role that specialised custom digital sites play within the country’s media landscape. EATIVITY aims to keep consumers in the know and help small […]
Hivestack, the global ad tech leader in programmatic digital out of home (DOOH) advertising, today announced the appointment of Ichiro Jinnai as president, Hivestack Japan. Jinnai will be responsible for driving the regional strategy, direction and expansion of the Hivestack platform in Japan. “I am beyond thrilled to welcome Ichiro Jinnai to the Hivestack family,” […]
Audience measurement platform LENS Technology & Analytics has appointed Nikhil Elayat to Business Director to fast-track growth opportunities across Australia and New Zealand. Elayat (pictured) joins from New Zealand’s largest independent advertising agency, Stanley Street, where he was head of advertising technology. He played a pivotal role in building adtech functions within the performance team […]
Australian medical research institute, The Burnet Institute has launched, How Science Matters podcast. The informative podcast will be co-hosted by former ABC Radio journalist Tracy Parish and Burnet institute director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC. Crabb is also a microbiologist, malaria researcher and will share his knowledge on contagious diseases. How Science Matters was […]