Cyber-security researchers on Tuesday claimed that domains and botnets have access to the private shopping data of close to 10 crore Indians, allegedly impacting brands like Amazon India, ICICI Bank, Policy Bazaar, Bajaj Finserv via a massive advertising fraud. A botnet (robot network) is a network of internet-connected systems infected by malware that allows a hacker to control them.
Gurugram-based cyber security and digital AD threat intelligence platform Com Olho claimed that government entities like the State Bank of India, ITR Forms & Verifications, Indian Railways, Bank of Maharashtra and GST etc. are also targeted to drive traffic to "websites that are running Google or other forms of advertisements on their platforms, instead of redirecting them to legitimate information".
The domains mailindiaa.com and connectinboxx.com were identified to be the platforms that are registered on private proxies, which masks their digital identities.
"These platforms use email servers and automations which targets Indian consumers to serve the ads. The technique of masking also suggests possible tax evasion by the real owners of the platform," the company said in a statement.
The companies and Indian entities allegedly affected were yet to comment on the report.
"Digital assets need regulation and should be considered as compulsive business assets. The ad fraud menace is just like another pandemic that is plaguing our nation's digital security for years," said Abhinav Bangia, Founder and CTO, Com Olho.
The company said that over the last three months, it has been tracking activity of these domains collecting more than 6,000 cases.
"These domains are non-traceable, they don't have sitting teams in India or abroad, or have a legitimate website," the report mentioned.
Advertising fraud is a global problem with estimated losses up to $40 billion worldwide. According to Com Olho estimates, the Indian market faced losses up to Rs 3,000 crore in the financial year 2020 owing to advertising fraud.
"We are ready with technology that can assist our government to curb this menace while helping out in the policy changes to address the issue of digital advertising fraud," Bangia added.
Started in 2019, Com Olho is India's first company to be granted a patent for advertising fraud detection. It is a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform built for advertisers, banks, insurance companies, and any firm investing heavily in digital advertisement, to reverse the rising tide of digital fraud and misinformation.
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