Methbot: Russian botnet steals millions from US companies every day

“Russian hackers are stealing between $3 million to $5 million per day from US brands and media companies in one of the most lucrative botnet operations ever discovered,” Charlie Osborne reports for ZDNet. “On December 20, researchers from White Ops said the scheme, dubbed ‘Methbot,’ is a Russian operation set up to watch up to 300 million video-based adverts automatically every day.”

“These adverts, displayed on legitimate domains owned by companies including the Huffington Post, Economist, Fortune, ESPN, Vogue, CBS Sports, and Fox News, are used to generate additional revenue through advertising sponsors which help keep these businesses afloat,” Osborne reports. “What makes matters worse is that the Methbot operators are impersonating these legitimate domains, touting themselves to advertising networks, and placing these ads on fake websites.”

“It is believed that Methobot creates an estimated 200 million to 300 million fraudulent video ad impressions per day, targeting roughly 6,000 publishers and generating $3 million to $5 million in revenue every 24 hoursOsborne reports. “‘At this point, the Methbot operation is so entrenched in the infrastructure, the only way to shut it down is to make the details public, and for all parties involved to take direct action,’ the research team says. ‘White Ops has stopped Methbot from monetizing on our customers’ platforms, but it is clearly making money on many other platforms.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully, these scams are identified and killed off as they negatively impact advertising reveuue for legitimate publishers while also polluting the user experience (think of rogue redirect ads that hijack the user to the App Store that are running in major ad networks, look legitimate and are virtually impossible for publishers (and, it seems, extremely difficult for the ad networks themselves) to ferret out. The sooner this and other scams like it get cleaned up, the better.


  1. Holy shit. Russians are everywhere. Fussing with everyone and everything. Let’s blame all our personal problems and worldwide problems on the Russians. This simplifies the issue and ignores the root cause of all our calamities and concerns. We should thank the Russians for acceding to being the source and progenitor of all the world’s problems and catastrophes,

  2. Publishers and ad networks had best figure out a way to deal with “rogue redirect ads.” After all, they are the ones profiting from ads and ruining the user experience on the WWW. That makes them responsible,

  3. Everything tells me, that MDN is directly a victim or perpetrator in this plot. I would like to believe victim, regardless MDN is responsible for babysitting the content of their site and ads they process. They want to get paid, the best way is to make our experience a good as possible. We like coming here, reading and commenting, voicing our opinions. I don’t mind ads, but I do mind them getting in the way.

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