theDocumentId => 1328317 Adware vs. Ad Fraud: Viva la Difference! - Dark Reading

Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Partner Perspectives  Connecting marketers to our tech communities.
SPONSORED BY
3/6/2017
11:30 AM
Pieter Arntz
Pieter Arntz
Partner Perspectives
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
50%
50%

Adware vs. Ad Fraud: Viva la Difference!

Both earn their money in the advertising trade but they each have very different means of operation and targets.

Adware and ad fraud are in basically the same business, and neither care very much how they make money as long as it keeps pouring in. But there are some major differences. To understand these differences let’s take a look at the separate entities.

Adware
Adware is any software application that shows advertisements while one of the components of the adware is running. The word is a contraction of advertising and software, and often just regarded as “advertising-supported freeware.”

With adware, consumers accept the well-known trade off of not having to pay for software in exchange for having to look at some advertisements in return. While this simple business model may appeal to many of us, there are definitely boundaries. We draw lines at the amount of advertisements, the moment and the way they are presented to us (consider for example,  in-game advertising), and the kind of advertisements. Pop-ups of an adult nature, for one,  may give those looking over your shoulder the wrong idea.

There are also some criteria that security vendors take into consideration when classifying adware:

  • Do the advertisements disappear when you uninstall the software they came with?
  • Was the user given a warning and a chance to opt out during install?
  • What is the nature of the changes the adware makes on the affected system?
  • How easy is it to remove under normal circumstances?
  • What is the impact on users privacy?
  • Does the adware grab permissions to update itself or install other similar programs?

This is why you will see (most) adware classified as potentially unwanted programs (PUPs), some as spyware, and others could even be classified as Trojans.

Ad fraud
Ad fraud is a type of fraud that lets advertisers pay for advertisements even though the number of impressions (the times that the advertisement has been seen) is enormously exaggerated. There are many different methods to achieve this:

  • SEO fraud, where sites are artificially made to appear very popular so advertisers will pay high prices for advertisements nobody may ever see.
  • Stacking or stuffing sites are filled with lots of advertisements. Sometimes they are on top of each other, or sometimes only one pixel big. When someone visits the site, all the advertisements register one impression.
  • Domain spoofing is when the site where the advertisement is placed is different than the one the advertiser expected. He pays a high price for a site with low or no traffic.
  • Click-fraud involves systems that are part of a botnet or have some other Trojan infection. Visitors are sent to a site or click on a URL. But despite the amount of impressions, the return value of the click is very low. The chance that the potential customer is mad at you, is bigger than the chance he’ll buy something.

The malware involved in this type of fraud is usually classified as a Trojan as the systems are remotely controlled and told to visit a site (to heighten the popularity) or click a URL (to register an impression). As you can imagine, hiring a botnet to do these tasks for you is a lot cheaper than owning and running large server-farms, although this happens as well. Ad fraudsters also sometimes pay people in low-income countries to do micro tasks for micro payment.

Both adware and ad fraud earn their money in the advertising business. But the means are different. While the main victims of adware are the users who may have knowingly installed advertising supported software, in the case of ad fraud the main victims are the advertisers,  even though unsuspecting users may be running click-bots or multi-purpose bots.

Was a Microsoft MVP in consumer security for 12 years running. Can speak four languages. Smells of rich mahogany and leather-bound books. View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
byran
50%
50%
byran,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/31/2020 | 12:16:44 PM
Thanks For your Information
Thanks for write a nice Article About: 

Adware vs. Ad Fraud


v
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
News
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
Commentary
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-37436
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-24
Amazon Echo Dot devices through 2021-07-02 sometimes allow attackers, who have physical access to a device after a factory reset, to obtain sensitive information via a series of complex hardware and software attacks. NOTE: reportedly, there were vendor marketing statements about safely removing pers...
CVE-2021-32686
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-23
PJSIP is a free and open source multimedia communication library written in C language implementing standard based protocols such as SIP, SDP, RTP, STUN, TURN, and ICE. In PJSIP before version 2.11.1, there are a couple of issues found in the SSL socket. First, a race condition between callback and ...
CVE-2021-32783
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-23
Contour is a Kubernetes ingress controller using Envoy proxy. In Contour before version 1.17.1 a specially crafted ExternalName type Service may be used to access Envoy's admin interface, which Contour normally prevents from access outside the Envoy container. This can be used to shut down Envoy rem...
CVE-2021-3169
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-23
An issue in Jumpserver 2.6.2 and below allows attackers to create a connection token through an API which does not have access control and use it to access sensitive assets.
CVE-2020-20741
PUBLISHED: 2021-07-23
Incorrect Access Control in Beckhoff Automation GmbH & Co. KG CX9020 with firmware version CX9020_CB3011_WEC7_HPS_v602_TC31_B4016.6 allows remote attackers to bypass authentication via the "CE Remote Display Tool" as it does not close the incoming connection on the Windows CE side if t...