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Advertisers beware: Millions of robots are imitating humans, watching and clicking online ads and inflating traffic numbers. A new study reveals that nearly a quarter of video advertising content was consumed not by people, but by bots. Cyberfraud experts at White Ops analyzed over 5 billion impressions from dozens of sites and companies, and found that fraud is widespread in just about every situation. And creepily enough, two-thirds of bots came from residential IP addresses — meaning they're likely working from infected home computers and browsers.

With advertisers losing money and people's computers being hijacked, the situation is dire, but there are things you can do. Keep your operating system and browser updated, for one thing, to avoid becoming part of a globe-spanning botnet. Advertisers and publishers need to learn to look closely at their traffic, watching for suspicious behavior or scammy sites sending lots of visitors. The report itself is available for download at White Ops's website, and is written to be fairly accessible — so head over and download it if you'd like to know more about how this type of fraud works and how to fight it.



—Devin Coldewey