Since you are reading this blog, it’s safe to assume that you’re familiar with click fraud. We’re taking it one step further and talking about click fraud malware.
If you’re like most of our readers or clients, you have likely heard about click fraud malware, are fearful of it, and want to learn more. Most importantly, you want to protect yourself in order to avoid becoming a cybercriminal accomplice.
Basics of Click Fraud Malware
As you may know, click fraud is a tactic that competitors use to run you out of the market. It’s done by a competitor either clicking on your PPC ads over and over again to use up your budget. It can be done by a single person, a bot, or a click farm. Anyone that runs PPC campaigns can become a victim of click fraud.
Click fraud malware takes the click fraud game up a notch, and is likely to become an even bigger problem in 2018. Malware is an umbrella term used to refer to forms of harmful or intrusive software. The sole purpose of malware is to damage, disable, or control computers. This is exactly the purpose of click fraud malware – to control computers for the sole purpose of carrying out click fraud attacks. Even worse, is that the main purpose of the malware is to infect and spread to as many computers as possible.
Who’s Behind the Malware
Many forms of click fraud malware exist, and many different groups are to blame. One of the most common ones is called MIUREF. It was discovered in 2013, and affects countries including America, Japan, France, and Australia. Of course, the ones who benefit most from this kind of fraud are ad agencies, as every click they get means more cash in their pockets. Ad agencies have been known to hire cybercriminals to carry out click fraud malware attacks. This kind of business is wrong and risky, as it could cost them their business if they’re caught.
How the MIUREF Scam Works
The malware gets sent to people as an attachment in spam emails. When the email gets opened or the specific link get clicked, it installs itself as a browser plugin on the computer.
Why does it load as a plugin? Firstly, so that it reloads every time the internet browser is opened to monitor browsing activity. Secondly, to hide itself to avoid getting detected and removed. And thirdly and most importantly, to execute click fraud. When the plugin is called upon, it can form a small army-like attack to click on ads.
You may have no idea the malware even exists on your computer, but because it’s happening from your IP address, it’s as if you’re executing the fraud. Aside from using your computer to perform click fraud, MIUREF could also lead you to scam websites, violate your privacy, and steal your information.
First Step to Protecting Yourself
The best way to protect yourself from becoming an accomplice to click fraud malware is by staying aware and keeping on your toes. Since the attack get sent through spam emails, it’s important to understand which emails are legitimate, and which are not. Inform yourself of safe email habits, and learn the signs of potential malware. Some things to lookout for include:
- Email text with typos
- Unknown recipient
- Unfamiliar links
- Urgency in the writing of the email
To be as safe as possible, delete any suspicious emails before even opening them. Some malware attack your computer as soon as you open the email it’s sent in.
Advertiser worried about fraudulent malware clicks?
Click fraud malware is devastating for victims. It’s also harmful for advertisers that lose control of their campaigns and have their entire ad budget spent up by fraudsters. If you’re concerned about fraudulent clicks from click fraud malware, use ClickCease.
Our algorithms and smart software can protect advertisers just like you from infected computers. Even better is that we can protect your campaigns from suspicious computers that may be subject to malware. When talking about your ad budget, there’s no reason not to do everything in your power to protect it.