2.6 The role of malware in click fraud
This section is part of the amber and green pathways.
The majority of modern malware has been designed with malicious intent; to cause damage to a computer’s operating system or its data, or to steal information from a user, or increasingly, from online advertisers.
As you will have seen, many large websites rely on advertising for their revenue.. The amount of money spent on online advertising is growing rapidly with more than $332.25 billion spent globally during 2019. Advertisers like online advertising because it can be relatively cheap compared to a printed advertisement and because software allows for individuals to be targeted with specific adverts for products they are likely to buy.
The most common type of advertising is ‘pay per click’ (known as ppc) where advertisers only pay the owners of a site when a user clicks on an advert. This system can be subverted by either generating clicks that don’t come from genuine customers, or by hijacking a click intended for a genuine advertiser. This is known as click fraud, it accounts for more than 20% of all clicks and it can be aided by malware. Computers all around the world, operating as a botnet, can generate false clicks, siphoning money from advertisers through multiple layers of publishers and redistributors to hide its eventual destination.
While an individual click will only raise a tiny amount of money, done millions of times, click fraud can raise serious amounts of money. With the present trend of one click in every ten being a fraudulent one, it is estimated that billions will be lost in advertising revenue due to click fraud.