May 22 2006

The Business of Being a Scumbag, Part II

The Business of Being a Scumbag, Part II

From today’s Direct Newsline email newsletter (no apparent way to link to it) comes another view into how the Internet Axis of Evil carries out its mission.

Zombie Computer Network Commits Click Fraud

A global network of 34,000 “zombie” computers infected with a Trojan Horse virus is being used to commit click fraud against pay-per-click (PPC) advertisers, according to software security research firm PandaLabs.

It is thought to be the largest click-fraud bot network detected so far, and comes at a time when advertisers are reported to be growing increasingly worried about wasting their performance-ad dollars on unqualified clicks.

The firm reported Friday that, according to data it has observed, the computers are infected with the Clickbot.A bot and controlled remotely through several Web servers. This allows the fraudsters to define the Web pages on which the ads are hosted and set the maximum number of clicks from a single IP address, in order to elude detection software. The system can also evade fraud detection by sending click requests from different unrelated IP addresses.

“Renting and selling of botnets has become a genuine business model for cyber crooks,” explained PandaLabs director Luis Corrons, in a statement. “The scam we have now uncovered exploits infected systems to generate profits through ‘par-per-click systems, instead of by installing spyware sending spam.”

This is how it works.  It’s the same whether you’re talking about spam, viruses, click fraud, phishing, or survey fraud.