Millions of TV app “watchers” are actually a botnet, mining for ad revenue

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A mobile botnet called PARETO, running on nearly a million Android devices and masquerading as millions of TV app users, has been exposed as making an average of 650 million fraudulent ad requests per day.   Security researchers at HUMAN, a cybersecurity company formerly known as White Ops, had first discovered the situation in early 2020, and claims that the botnet used a range of mobile apps to spoof more than 6,000 connected TV apps.

According to HUMAN, the operators of PARETO spoofed Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, LG Smart TVs, Google Chromecast players.  Apps  included 29 for Android, and 36 apps that were available through the Roku Channel Store.

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HUMAN has engaged in partnerships with Roku, Google and others to help disrupt the operation.

Read further details via HUMAN

Why it matters

At a high level, piracy takes at least five forms: theft of content, of service, of network capacity, “of you” (personal details), and in this case, theft of advertising.  Operations like this one siphon revenue from broadcasters and pay TV operators whose business models depend upon advertising and place it in the pockets of criminals.   They also have impact on the advertisers themselves, not only in the form of wasted ad dollars, but also for the potential of reputational damage.

[ Note: Piracy Monitor has no relationship with HUMAN, and this article does not represent an endorsement of the company. ]

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