A botnet, nicknamed Chameleon, which is made up of over 120,000 compromised PCs running Windows 7 in the United States (95%), was discovered this week by British web analysis group Spider.io. They estimate that this network has been costing advertisers over $70 million a year, or $6 million per month by replicating the mouse moves and clicks that advertisers use to determine payouts to websites. Spider.io went on to say that this suspicious activity was found on more than 200 websites and the botnet was responsible for as many as 9 billion false impressions each month.
Now it is up to the company to begin the process of determining who would stand to gain from these false ad views. Something that the company is looking into while suggesting a difficulty. Whether that is a matter of “sandbagging” to make the guilty party or parties less worried about their ongoing investigation is anyone’s guess.
“This particular botnet is being used to emulate human users surfing the web, mimicking normal browsing sessions and normal ad engagement,” said the firm’s chief executive Douglas de Jager speaking with BBC News.
“It is difficult to imagine why one would run this type of botnet across a cluster of 202 sites other than to commit display advertising fraud.