The anatomy of mobile ad fraud: Bots
Scalarr classifies Bots in the Classic Fraud category, as they were one of the first types of app install ad fraud to appear. Bots emulate an install on a device by sending fake install information, such as an event or transaction to the tracking provider. However, there is no real install on a physical device, hence why bots are often called “emulators”.
1. In 2018 classic Bots were responsible for 14% of all fraud cases.
2. A few years ago IP blacklisting was an effective way to block server-based bots, but it is not a problem for fraudsters today. Further development of bots to alter their IP addresses has made this approach obsolete.
3. Open source SDKs are the primary targets for bot attacks due to their low level of security.
How Bots work
1. Using multiple types of emulation software, fraudsters create thousands of devices with spoofed parameters, such as device name, advertiser ID, OS version, etc.
2. From these devices they perform fraudulent installations from app stores. Sometimes they simulate installs within the devices' memory cache, without even connecting to an app store.
3. When these fraudulent installs show up in tracking analytics system reports, the fraudster gets paid for them.
How to deal with Bots
These primitive bots can be detected by abnormal post-install activity, or by identifying obvious fake app starts, leading to high retention rates. But, now most bots have been improved and are part of a new type of fraud called "smart bots", which go beyond fake app starts to more advanced spoofing of post-install events and even purchases. The behavioral scripts of smart bots are very close to the behavior of real users, requiring new methods to detect this more sophisticated type of fraud.
Read Scalarr’s Ultimate Guide to Mobile Fraud Types to understand more about dealing with bots and smart bots in all specific cases.
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