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[ISN] Botnet click fraud at record high


By Dan Goodin in San Francisco 
The Register
23rd October 2009

Malware-infected computers are increasingly being used to perpetrate 
click fraud, according to a study released Thursday that found their 
contribution was the highest since researchers began compiling 
statistics on the crime.

In the third quarter of this year, 42.6 percent of fraudulent clicks 
were generated by computers that were part of botnets, compared with 
36.9 percent the previous quarter and about 27.6 percent in the same 
period of 2008. The increase comes as criminals trying to profit from 
click fraud take advantage of new advances in malware that make the 
practice harder to detect.

"As the botnets get more sophisticated, they're able to perpetrate more 
click fraud," said Paul Pellman, CEO of Click Forensics, the advertising 
auditing firm that prepared the report. "They're finding new ways of 
being distributed, and that's reflected in the data."

The jump in botnet use over the past year comes as the overall amount of 
click fraud dropped, from 16 percent of all paid ads in Q3 of 2008 to 
14.1 percent last quarter. That means manual forms of click fraud, in 
which large numbers of individuals engage in the practice, has decreased 
by an even larger margin. Many of those people get paid to knowingly gin 
the advertising results, while others are tricked into it.


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