Botnets inflating Twitch audiences help broadcasters earn money

Most people dream about earning a living by doing something they enjoy. For some gamers, that dream is achievable by using Twitch, the game streaming service that offers gamers with a big-enough following a share in the ad revenue generated from their streams.

Among the conditions they have to meet in order to become a member of this Partner Program is that they have to have a constant average concurrent viewership of 500+.

With this monetary incentive, it’s no wonder that some of the broadcasters are looking for ways to artificially boost the number of their active viewers. As demand more often than not creates supply, Twitch botnet services have popped up.

“During our research, we found several Twitch botnet services that were for sale both on underground forums and on the open web,” Symantec researcher Lionel Payet shared in a blog post. “The offerings are marketed as being easy for customers to set up. We also found that many services offered a single application that could generate a huge number of fake Twitch channel viewers.”

One of the botnet masters says that each of the bots can simultaneously view streams on broadcasters’ Twitch channels. The owner of the compromised machine won’t notice this as the streams are hidden from view and muted.

Other services also offer “chatter” bots to complete the illusion that the viewer numbers are real by posting comments in the chat section. Others still offer technical support to set up the bots.

It’s interesting to note that not all the computers in the botnet belong to unsuspecting users that have been infected with malware such as the Inflabot Trojan, which is used by cybercriminals in Russia to operate a Twitch botnet-for-rent service.

Some users agree to take part in the scam for a fee.

“This scam isn’t exclusively tied to Twitch. Botnets are being used on other video platforms with similar revenue-generating programs, such as YouTube,” Payet also pointed out.

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