Good Bots, Bad Bots, & Terrifying Armies of Zombie Bots

BotMore than half of all internet traffic is bots. There are good bots, and bad. There are armies of slave bots - botnets, that will spring into villainous action upon command of their master.

GoT's army of undead started as primarily human, but gained a more diverse set of conscripts - giants, horses, wolves, bears, and even a dragon. So it also goes with the botnet armies. As connected devices flourish, security cameras, DVRs, refrigerators, webcams, routers, washing machines and routers join the legions of computers forced to do their evil masters' bidding.

Recently Hyphbot made news when it was discovered to be bilking digital advertisers of up to $1.28 million a day over a period of at least several months. That bot network enslaved up to 500,000 machines and put them to work generating up to a 1.5 billion fake ad requests a day.

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Internet of Things + Adult Toys = Well, you can imagine…

watchingConnected devices are everywhere, enhancing the lives of consumers in myriad ways. The Internet of Things is a fast-moving revolution that opens possibilities and delivers functionality for just about any gadget, device, or system we can imagine. Including adult toys.

Medical devices, cities, refrigerators, baby monitors, cars, wearables, and homes are but a few of the connected things that give us astonishing new capabilities and conveniences. They also beget stunning invasions of privacy and dangerous vulnerabilities.

There’s a whole lot of creepy stuff going on, from recording orgasms, to smart phone apps that deliver users’ sexual behavior data to the manufacturer, to hackable devices that can be accessed and controlled by others. Issues range from surreptitious, deliberate data collection, to unsecured and unsecurable Bluetooth connections.

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Google's Multi-touch Attribution Tools Spark Privacy Fears

Some of Google's many appsAt the end of May Google announced its new tool that matches in-store, brick and mortar purchases to online behavior. On July 31st EPIC filed a complaint with the FTC to stop it.

Marketers have long sought ways to measure the effectiveness and ROI of marketing spend, and evaluating digital dollars has been the most confounding of all. Making the association between online behaviour and online purchase has relied on "last click" measurements. So if a consumer was visiting a DIY website, clicked on an ad for woodworking tools, and made a purchase, the DIY website would be paid for the click through and sales conversion.

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Does YOUR Mobile Device have a Secret Life?

Man shocked at his phone's secret lifeCountless millions of mobile devices are leading secret lives their owners are utterly unaware of. You may think your phone is happily slurping juice on your charger, or taking a well-deserved rest while you sleep…but instead it may be "viewing" as many as 1000 ads per hour, and downloading up to 4GB of data per day.

Ad Fraud is a searingly hot topic these days, but many people think it doesn't affect them. They believe it's just a nasty ripoff of advertisers by some nefarious activity that’s way too hard to understand. Think again - your own, much loved device may be in the thick of it, helping perpetrate billions of dollars of ad fraud a year.

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My ad ran WHERE?!

Google ad placementHundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually on digital advertising in the UK, with Goggle and YouTube raking in a huge chunk of it. But brands are finding their ads on sites with white supremacist material or pornography, and in jihadist recruitment videos on YouTube. That is not the bang for their buck that advertisers intended to pay for.

Havas clients alone spend nearly $190 million, and they, along with other ad giants, pulled all their advertising from Google and YouTube. Over 250 companies have suspended advertising on the two platforms. Now it looks as though the issue has crossed the pond, with AT&T and Verizon said to be pulling their ads as well.

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2.3 million awarded in Agency on Agency Ad Fraud case

PPC FraudAbout 1/3 of digital ad spend is lost to fraud. With US digital ad spend at over 72 Billion in 2016, that's a hefty sum. Marketers spend stunning sums of money on advertising that no one ever sees. Fraud is diabolically difficult to detect, and even harder to understand. 

We're taking an ongoing look at this many faceted problem, with explanations that you don't need to be a hacker to comprehend. 

Ad fraud usually elicits thoughts of click farms and fiendish hackers perpetrating crimes from sites based in Romania, China or Russia. But it's not only sophisticated Russian botnets that are using fraud to their benefit. Increasingly, unscrupulous companies are using ad fraud methods to steal business and crush competitors. 

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