'Chameleon' Botnet stealing 'millions of dollars from advertisers'
London, Mar 21 : Security experts have discovered a botnet that is stealing millions of dollars per month from advertisers by generating fake advert viewings.
According to British web analytics firm Spider.io, the 'Chameleon' botnet is made up of 120,000 home PCs and costs advertisers six million dollars per month.
Spider.io said that Chameleon simulated clicks on adverts on over 200 sites and was responsible for up to nine billion false ad views every month, the BBC reports.
According to the report, websites that show display ad receive money when an ad is viewed, in what is called cost-per-impression advertising.
It works by money being paid when an ad impression is viewed, and advertisers selling a product or a service pay the website owner a fixed amount each time their ad is viewed.
The ads are typically placed by advertising networks that act as middlemen, the network places the ad on the publisher's site and the advertiser pays the network and the publisher.
Advertisers use clicks and mouse movements over ads as leading indicators of visitor intent, meaning that the users being shown ads are more likely to buy a product or sign up to a new service, the report said.
So if a malicious programme generates clicks or mouse traces, then advertisers will be encouraged to buy more ad space, it added.
Spider.io said that about 95 percent of the hijacked machines were in the US.