MethBot is the biggest and most profitable ad fraud discovered to date. They were exposed by the White Ops, a cyber-security firm – reports of which were released in December 2016.
MethBot is a scheme carried out by Russian cyber-criminals, robbing some of the biggest and most well known US advertising firms and media companies of 3 to 5 million dollars a day.
The brains behind the operation have been named Ad Fraud Komanda or “AFK13” by the White Ops.
Some of the integral points of this operation are:
- It is a systematic and large-scale approach to minor cyber crimes like click fraud.
- They created over 6000 domains and 250, 267 premium URLs belonging to big-shot companies such as ESPN.
- These were used to disguise fraudulent web space and sell it to advertising firms, under the tag of big names.
- They also invested in an army of automated web browsers, programmed to appear as “users”. These users were made to watch and click on more than 300 million video ads a day. The CPMs ranged from $3.27 to $36.72.
- The bot army was made to seem legitimate with proper social network login and geolocation information.
- Hundreds of IP addresses were also purchased to give a more human feel to the bots.
They did not leave any rock unturned and continued their work successfully for several months before being detected. They were first detected in September 2015 when White Ops noticed some unusual traffic with a unique bot signature. However, it wasn’t until they went full swing in October 2016 that White Ops were able to prove their doubts.
The main reason behind the massive success that was MethBot was their ability to sell cheap premium video space which was not questioned by any agency and welcomed with open arms. In order to run high-quality advertisements on premium websites, the suitable price has to be paid. Buying cheap will only get you cheap.
Dubbed MethBot, due to the numerous references to the term “meth” in its code, it has sunk its teeth very deeply into the advertising industry. In order to destroy it completely, it is necessary to go all the way to the roots. White Ops has made their investigation regarding this case public in order to force them out into the open.
However, according to certain reports as of last year, several companies have deemed the impact MethBot has had on them as “minimal”. On collaborating with ad fraud detection agencies, the process has become transparent, allowing advertisers’ to easily pick out the frauds and eliminate them as soon as they come into play. We are on the path to shutting down ad fraud once and for all. In order to do so, the speed of development of ad fraud detection technology was matched that of fraudulent activities.