One of the many ways people try to make money illegally from the Internet is through malware. Yet another way is through click fraud, where a person clicks on a banner ad with the intention of only generating money from the advertising group that placed the ad on the web page.
Microsoft's Malware Protection Center website claimed this week that while the online ad business generated $32 billion in revenue in 2011, as many as 22 percent of all clicks on online ads are fraudulent. Microsoft claims that consumers actually pay more for products online due to the amount of false clicks on ads.
That's why this division of the company has teamed up with the Microsoft Online Forensics team in AdCenter to go after online click fraud schemes that use malware to generate the false ad impressions. The blog states that as many as 70 percent of all malware employ some kind of click fraud to generate revenue. Microsoft also says it becomes harder to detect click fraud when the ad traffic comes from all over the world, with the malware making it appear as if each ad impression comes from a real person.
The blog stated how Microsoft is trying to detect these malware-based ad impressions. saying:
We are intersecting large data sets between malware telemetry and ad-clicks to detect anomalous behavior correlated to malware. And we are taking two relatively disparate domains of expertise and tools, namely malware and online advertising, and creating prevention systems and processes for identifying the entire chain of benefactors of click-fraud malware. In this way, we're stopping the flow of illicit money at the AdCenter level.
So far, Microsoft says their efforts have been used to find three families of malware that use click fraud schemes. Microsoft said they have already "recouped those ill-gotten gains from the benefactors" but did not go into details.