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Google is without a doubt the biggest target of click fraud through its pervasive advertising platform. Many advertising networks are utilizing malware programs to automate false viewing clicks.

Of course, the advertisers want sales conversions rather than pay networks that merely create a potential customer who clicks through the jump link to view the ad.

The purpose of the malware program is only to generate revenue for the network company. The result is implementation of a company policy that is actually criminal fraud.

The legal issue

The legal problem stems from the fact that no purchase is ever intended, because the network sales goal is accomplished with just the click. The intent can be very difficult to detect, especially when the rogue clicks are generated via Internet protocol address proxies and other identity masks.

The advertisers still have to pay, even though no purchase is made. What results is a growing hesitancy among advertisers to use the commercial platform, which in turn has an impact on Google’s bottom line because the fraud creates apprehension and falsely represents the advertising customer base.

A better understanding of the problem

Google has recognized the potential for this problem for many years, but detection of these fraudulent click operations has only been possible in the past year: In the United Kingdom, start-up detected the Chameleon false-click network.

The network was made up 120,000 computers, with an estimated total automatic clicks in the nine billion range. Microsoft identified another high-jacking computer network of more than two million computers, , which has accounted for lost advertising revenue to the tune of $2.7 million.

Chameleon created twice this amount of fraudulent financial activity with less than ten percent of the automated computers.

The resulting damage

The result of these criminal practices is a greatly reduced conversion rate for the advertiser, which affects Google’s ability to claim accurately what advertising can accomplish in terms of pragmatic sales levels. The actual conversions are always indicative of the number of real customers, but the massive number of advertisement clicks skews the ratio exponentially.

The low conversion ratio also serves as a barrier for other potential advertisers on Google, as well as other search engines, because the massive number of clicks from unknown computer users suggests that many more potential customers exist than can honestly be claimed.

This creates an advertising dilemma for Google, which the company now intends to combat.

Internet insecurity

Now that Google has established a method to address the problem, the potential for false accusations among the hijacked computer owners will increase dramatically. When this attack defense is coupled to the fact that Microsoft is ending support of the XP operating system, the potential to identify the common individual computer user can create a complicated legal scenario.

It’s estimated that one-third of all U.S. computer users still use XP, with more than 50% of XP users in China.

Anyone who finds himself in one of these complicated legal situations will need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the problem on both sides of the legal equation. Crafting an effective defense will be challenging in this emerging legal area.

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