Smartphone working too slow? One of the reasons might be the unseen ads that run in-app without you even knowing, according to a new report released by Forensiq, a company concerned with fraud in internet advertising.
If you thought tapping on ‘close ad’ was the end of mobile advertising, thousands of apps are here to tell you otherwise, while they secretly shove some more ads down your smartphone’s throat.
Forensiq conducted a 10-day study in order to observe how many apps committed this kind of fraud on various continents; it turns out that in Europe and Asia the phenomenon is more widely spread, with two to three percent of devices running fake ads. In the US, only one percent of the devices observed had at least one app sneaking in unwanted ads.
There’s no difference between Apple and Android devices – they are equally infested with one or more of the 5,000 apps that were found to display ‘invisible’ ads. It turns out that the ad fraud business is quite lucrative, as advertisers pay up to $850 million per year for their fake ads.
The Forensiq study also reported that the apps at the top of the ad fraud scheme can burn through 2 GB of data each day – and that’s just on a single device. The company took special interest in apps that generated high amounts of activity, which led to exposing the scam.
It turns out that for every ad visible to users the fraudulent apps would run in the background five more; sometimes, closing the app had no effect, as apps continued to scroll through ads.
There are some types of malicious software that have no other purpose than to spam or hack the user; unlike those, these apps that also run fake ads actually provide a legitimate service, such as simple games or utilities.
Even though the names of the apps were not released in the Forensiq report, the behavior of the apps was detailed, so users might be able to recognize the ‘symptoms’ on their own devices. David Sendroff, founder and CEO of Forensiq, warns that even 4-star apps are liable to becoming fronts for such schemes.
Freezes, restarts and frequent crashes are just some of the frustrating habits these apps might have. Avoiding pop up ads become trickier and easier to accidentally clicking on, and sometimes the device will automatically switch to App Store when an ad appears in-app.
The problem with ad fraud is that most of the victims of the crime are unaware of what’s going on, and the chance of anyone getting caught for the crime are very slim.
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