The network, dubbed Hyphbot, was noticed by ad platform advertisers when they discovered unusual patterns in their stats. An analysis revealed that apparently advertising was placed on and sold on websites that did not exist.
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In order to get the scammers on the clutter, the Adform employees bought advertising space on the non-existent websites and, together with alleged banners, also delivered analysis scripts to them. Surprisingly, it was initially nothing remarkable to be discovered because the fake calls seemingly came from actually existing Chrome browsers. How exactly the trick works, still could not be clarified. However, one thing is for sure: The websites on which the advertising calls and advertising clicks are allegedly generated do not exist at all.
Each day, the fraudsters were able to simulate an estimated 400 million to 1.5 billion fake calls, and earn a fortune with the revenue. The daily profit was according to the experts at about half a million US dollars in advertising revenue. So far, the botnet has not been completely dug up. Although Adform has promptly informed other online advertising trading platforms that have taken countermeasures. The Hyphbot network is still active and is supposed to work on malware-infected machines. In the US alone, half a million affected IPs could be identified.
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Hyphbot could even be “three to four times” larger than the Methbot discovered last year, says Adform. The biggest advertising click fraud network discovered so far has also affected major well-known websites such as Huffington Post, The Economist, ESPN and Fox News. Up to $ 5 million a day, the now defunct fraud network had generated at peak times.