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

Invest and earn with Coinbloc .us. Guaranteed Weekly ROI, early signals, fast withdrawals among others. I recommend Coinbloc .us as on...

Hans Jensen

Explainer: What marketers need to know about cryptocurrency

Read more

Investment decisions are a big deal, so why not get some guidance? You can day-trade cryptos, BUY and HOLD and evaluate the assets with f...

Dave Sigurd

Gartner: Digital isn't enough of a superpower for CMOs anymore

Read more

I normally don’t feel comfortable investing online but because the company I worked for downsized due to the pandemic and I was one of th...

Dave Sigurd

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 9 June 2022

Read more

Investment decisions are a big deal, so why not get some guidance? You can day-trade cryptos, BUY and HOLD and evaluate the assets with f...

Dave Sigurd

Creating a marketplace for wellness

Read more

A solution for an retail industry data extraction. https://e-scraper.com/usefu...

"e-Scraper" Data Extracting

​Catchoftheday launches fee-based online shopping club

Read more

Blog Posts

2 hidden ingredients for leadership success CMOs need to know

Your success as a senior marketing professional has much in common with your success as a leader. Both marketing, and leadership activities, depend on building trust, encouraging action, and reliably fulfilling promises that have been made.

Gerard Penna

Leadership advisor, coach

How shifting economic trends are impacting digital media

Between further interest rate rises, inflation​, empty shelves, extortionate lettuce prices, supply chain issues and the barely believable events in Eastern Europe, the past six months there’s been a cacophony of environmental factors.

Kieran Reed

Senior digital manager, Alpha Digital

5 ways to turn imposter syndrome into confidence and conviction

Imposter syndrome. That feeling others will discover you are actually not as good as they expect, and at any point you will be exposed and ridiculed as a fraud. If you can relate to this, then you are not alone.

Rowena Millward

Author, consultant

Sign in