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Today, it’s now easier than ever to commit crimes over the internet. It has come to the point where it seems to be spiraling out of control.

The list of malicious activity that can be committed on the internet may seem endless from malware, to identity fraud, to click fraud.

A click fraud trial in Brooklyn, NY has just begun. Fabio Gasperini, an Italian information technology professional has been charged a slew of crimes. These crimes include click fraud, creating a botnet, computer intrusion, and wire fraud.

Although malicious activity on the internet is extremely hard to trace or prosecute, so this is a big step in the right direction.

Wait Back Up 

Before we dig deep into the ins and outs of this trial let’s start with the basics…

What is click fraud?

Click fraud is a phenomenon in which your competitor, bot, or click farm are clicking on your ads with the intent to drain your advertising budget.

Click fraud is is extremely prevalent on AdWords but is not exclusive to Google’s ad platform, on the contrary, it can happen on any online advertising platform such a Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, the list goes on. This has been a growing problem in the online advertising community.

What is a botnet?

A group of devices that are infected and controlled by a common type of malware.

botnet

The Trial 

According to prosecutors, Gasperini illegally installed malicious software on servers worldwide (botnet), including the United States.

From there he installed computer scripts that caused the servers to automatically click on online ads… sound familiar?

He didn’t just stop there, Gasperini registered websites under his name then contracted an online ad company in Italy so that he would then get paid for each and every (invalid) click.

To go even further, he has been accused of defrauding U.S. businesses that were paying for these ads.

Not just any companies, there are some big names that were affected. Big brands including Walt Disney Co., Procter and Gamble Co., and Nike Inc.

It’s still unclear how much money was really made from this whole scheme but at least tens of thousands, if not millions.

The main computer-hacking law in the U.S. in which this trial was based on was passed in the 80s and hasn’t even been amended since 2008….but a lot has changed since then. So it’s safe to say it’s a little out of date.

Gasperini was charged in Amsterdam last year but was then extradited to the U.S.

The Justice Department has been trying to push Congress to reform cybercrime, in particular, the renting and selling of botnets.

Final Thoughts

Click fraud is a growing epidemic in the online advertising community. This case is a rare inside look into cybercrime, as cyber crimes are extremely difficult to trace and prosecute.

Luckily, there is something you can do to protect yourself from click fraud botnets, like Gasperini’s. Here at ClickCease, we offer full-service monitoring, detection, and protection for pay per click campaigns.

Click fraud protection can be done manually through some DIY techniques but many advertisers do not have the time or resources to be checking each and every click for validity.

Let us do the hard work for you and rest easy knowing your PPC campaigns are fully protected.