Botnets dominate click fraud

Click Forensics released advertising audience quality figures for the third quarter 2009. Traffic across more than 300 ad networks is reflected in the data.

Key findings for Q3 2009 include:

  • Botnets accounted for 42.6 percent of all click fraud in Q3 2009. This was a significant rise – more than doubling in the past two years and up from the 27.5 percent reported for the same quarter last year.
  • The overall industry average click fraud rate was 14.1 percent. That’s up from 12.7 percent for Q2 2009 and down from the 16.0 percent rate reported for Q3 2008.
  • In Q3 2009, the countries outside North America producing the greatest volume of click fraud were the United Kingdom, Vietnam and Germany, respectively.

“The significant rise in botnet-generated click fraud lines up with recent findings of several well-known malware and online fraud tracking experts,” said Paul Pellman, CEO of Click Forensics. “Botnets perpetrating click fraud and other online schemes continue to grow in number and sophistication. Advertisers and ad providers need to be especially vigilant about such activity as we enter the competitive search marketing holiday season.”

In Q3 2009, Click Forensics discovered a new highly sophisticated click fraud botnet dubbed the “Bahama botnet,” which was first detected redirecting traffic through 200,000 parked domains located in the Bahamas. The malware distributed botnet hijacks natural search queries and also employs automated clicking to mask itself as a good source of search advertising traffic in order to steal from advertisers and search engines.

Click Forensics found a link between the Bahama botnet and the recent display ad scareware incident. The source of both attacks was traced back to the Ukrainian Fan Club, a known group of online fraudsters.

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