Methbot ‘BOT farm’ makes $5 million a day through Ad Fraud

Online fraud vigilante firm, WhiteOps, recently discovered ‘Methbot‘ – a new illegal ad campaign that makes around $3-5 million a day by committing fraud with ad operators across the United States.

Methbot Bot Farm

Controlled by a group of individuals based in Russia and operating out of data centers in the US and Netherlands, this ‘bot farm’ generates this kind of revenue by targeting US’ premium video advertising ecosystem. As White Ops is only able to analyze data directly available from their customers, the true financial impact to the greater advertising ecosystem is still unknown. Therefore, the company has released their entire findings into public domain.

Methbot automatically generates more than 300 million fraudulent video ad impressions every day. This is made possible by the cyber criminal gang, dubbed AFT13, which has developed Methbot robo-browser that spoofs all the necessary interactions needed to initiate, carry out and complete the ad transactions. Furthermore, the attackers registered more than 6,000 domains and 250,000 URLs which they used to impersonate identities of high-profile websites like ESPN, CBS, and HuffPost to steal their ad slots.

The devious minds behind Methbot are also using servers hosted in US and Europe to power more than 570,000 bots with fake IP addresses, mostly belonging to the United States, which make it appear that ads are being viewed by US visitors. After developing this pseudo-audience, the cyber criminals then get video-ad inventory to display to its shadow websites for big bucks and fool the ad marketplace into thinking the ad content is being watched by legitimate website visitors.

To make it seem genuine, Methbot even goes the extra mile to use fake social media logins, mouse movements, and fake click banks. With an average of $13 per 1,000 video views and over 300 Million video views generated by Methbot, it is estimated that they have been making a comfortable $3 million per day in revenue. You can download the whitepaper from WhiteOps.

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A constant learner of gadgets, Ankit has been writing about technology and the internet, in general, for the past three years, and has written for several well-known media outlets.