Botnet use in click fraud skyrockets

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Increasingly, click fraud seems to be underpinned by botnets, according to a report from Click Forensics, an online advertising auditing service.

In fact, botnets accounted for nearly 43 percent of all click fraud in the third quarter of this year, the study, released Thursday, found.

This was a big jump in the use of botnets, marking a doubling in two years, and an increase of 27.5 percent over the same quarter last year.

One botnet, a highly sophisticated click-fraud network of zombie computers dubbed the "Bahama botnet," was implicated in a recent scareware incident involving NYTimes.com display ads. The source of that attack was traced back to the Ukrainian Fan Club, a known group of online fraudsters, which redirected traffic through 200,000 parked domains located in the Bahamas.

Click fraud involves a person, or script, clicking on an ad repeatedly to drive up countable hits that are paid for by unknowing advertisers.

“Botnets perpetrating click fraud and other online schemes continue to grow in number and sophistication,” Paul Pellman, CEO of Click Forensics, said in a statement. “Advertisers and ad providers need to be especially vigilant about such activity as we enter the competitive search marketing holiday season.”


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