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What is proxy tunneling - install fraud - Impact
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Install fraud

Proxy tunneling

A malicious app, installed across a large share of mobile devices, can install malware that effectively converts that network of phones into a mobile botnet. This mobile botnet is remotely controlled by a botnet operator, which can leverage the hijacked IP of the device to mask the location of the operator while committing install fraud on a large scale.

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How they do it

  1. Malicious publisher has registered for advertiser’s large CPI program
  2. User downloads malicious publisher’s app
  3. App installs malware that makes user’s device a member device of an operator’s botnet
  4. Botnet operator reverse engineers the postback codes sent by advertiser’s app from its tracking software development kit (SDK) to the SDK’s servers
  5. Botnet operator tunnels through proxy to instruct user’s infected device to send out a fake, manipulated postback signal to the same SDK servers to indicate that an install has taken place (even though it has not and user is none the wiser)
  6. Advertiser attributes credit to malicious publisher, even though they provided no value and did not actually drive an install, and pays them a percentage of revenue
Proxy tunneling
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