Traffic Brokers

Clicked traffic brokers

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chameleon botnet exposed

The Chameleon botnet (not related to the legitimate Chameleon TGP Submitter) is a sophisticated botnet used to defraud advertisers. has observed the Chameleon botnet targeting a cluster of at least 202 websites. 14 billion ad impressions are served across these 202 websites per month. The botnet accounts for at least 9 billion of these ad impressions. At least 7 million distinct ad-exchange cookies are associated with the botnet per month. Advertisers are currently paying $0.69 CPM on average to serve display ad impressions to the botnet.
The bots subject host machines to heavy load, and the bots appear to crash and restart regularly. The bots largely restrict themselves to the 202 target websites. Each bot often masquerades as several concurrent website visitors, each visiting multiple pages across multiple websites. When a bot crashes the concurrent sessions end abruptly; upon restart the bot requests a new set of cookies. These crashes and idiosyncratic site-traversal patterns are just two of the many bot features that provide for a distinctive bot signature.

Individual bots run Flash and execute JavaScript. Bots generate click traces indicative of normal users. Bots also generate client-side events indicative of normal user engagement. They click on ad impressions with an average click-through rate of 0.02%; and they surprisingly generate mouse traces across 11% of ad impressions.

Here is a blacklist of 5000 IP addresses of the worst bots within the Chameleon botnet.