Integral Ad Science warns of growing 404bot threat

IAS Threat Lab calls for industry to update Ads.txt files to stop growing bot scheme responsible for millions of dollars in ad fraud

115357
115357

Integral Ad Science (IAS), the digital ad verification outfit, has issued a warning to the ad industry about a large-scale ad fraud scheme which produces fake browser data and fabricated URLs in order to steal advertisers’ media spend.

IAS estimates the 404bot scheme has cost the industry upwards of US$15 million dollars and has affected over 1.5 billion video ads. According to its conservative estimates, during a recent period of high activity, between April and September 2019, the fraud scheme affected over 600 million ads.

“The 404bot has been active since 2018 and its unchecked growth now warrants industry action,” said head of IAS Threat Lab, Evgeny Shmelkov. 

Earlier this year, IAS Threat Lab uncovered a large-scale ad fraud scheme in which a network of infected devices was being used to generate billions of ad calls to fake URLs - a practice known as domain spoofing - and inspired the fraud scheme’s name, 404bot. 

The domain spoofing operation was widespread several years ago and to combat the ad fraud, IAB Technology Lab started the ‘authorised digital sellers' initiative, known as Ads.txt, which allows an adtech player to publicly declare other companies that are authorised to sell its digital inventory. 

According to IAS, Ads.txt has had widespread adoption; however, domain spoofing continues to plague the online ad space and it claims some publishers don’t use Ads.txt properly or fail to properly vet the partners on the Ads.txt list.

The IAS Threat Lab continually monitors for bot activity and noticed a rise in domain spoofing, believed to be generated by a single botnet. After a sustained period of monitoring, IAS felt the 404bot had been active for too long, with no clear signs of it being shut down, and required a warning to operators in the ad-tech ecosystem to clean up their inventories.

“Publishers have done an excellent job in implementing Ads.txt, but what we are learning from this bot is that it is crucial to continuously audit and update Ads.txt files.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.


Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Well done, team at Larsen. Fantastic story of how to continually invest in customer experience.

Adam Frank

A designer jewellery brand's take on customer relations

Read more

Great piece Katja. It will be fascinating to see how the shift in people's perception of value will affect design, products and services ...

Paul Scott

How to design for a speculative future - Customer Design - CMO Australia

Read more

Google collects as much data as it can about you. It would be foolish to believe Google cares about your privacy. I did cut off Google fr...

Phil Davis

ACCC launches fresh legal challenge against Google's consumer data practices for advertising

Read more

“This new logo has been noticed and it replaces a logo no one really knew existed so I’d say it’s abided by the ‘rule’ of brand equity - ...

Lawrence

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

IMHO a logo that needs to be explained really doesn't achieve it's purpose.I admit coming to the debate a little late, but has anyone els...

JV_at_lAttitude_in_Cairns

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

Blog Posts

Why marketing technology utilisation is taking on new urgency

Disparate data sources, fragmented technology and a lack of funding has left many brands struggling in the battle for online customer attention amid a global pandemic. Now more than ever, brands need to focus on unlocking the value of their marketing technology.

Suzanne Croxford

Marketing technology partner, Wunderman Thompson Australia

How to design for a speculative future

For a while now, I have been following a fabulous design strategy and research colleague, Tatiana Toutikian, a speculative designer. This is someone specialising in calling out near future phenomena, what the various aspects of our future will be, and how the design we create will support it.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

The obvious reason Covidsafe failed to get majority takeup

Online identity is a hot topic as more consumers are waking up to how their data is being used. So what does the marketing industry need to do to avoid a complete loss of public trust, in instances such as the COVID-19 tracing app?

Dan Richardson

Head of data, Verizon Media

Sign in