A web analytics firm has sniffed out a botnet that was raking in $6m a month from online advertisers.
The so-called Chameleon botnet mimicked human visitors on select websites, causing billions of display ad impressions to be served to compromised machines. As many as 120,000 infected drones have been discovered so far. Almost all of the over 202 websites targeted in the scam are located in the US. In some cases, two-thirds of the websites’ traffic was generated from zombie machines.
All the bot browsers report themselves as being Internet Explorer 9.0 running on Windows 7.
The advertisers cough up a few pennies every time an ad is viewed, and the ad network, ad exchanges and the publisher all take their share.
The malign traffic was difficult to identify because the malware used a hundreds of thousands of different ad-exchange cookies. These characteristics earned the malware behind the scam the Chameleon moniker — via redwolf.newsvine.com