A little-known botnet is siphoning more than $6 million monthly from the online advertising industry. Analytics firm Spider.io issued a report today on what they call the Chameleon Botnet—a network of more than 120,000 infected Windows computers in the United States which are feeding bogus visits to sites with online advertising. The robotic site visits are designed to make money through re-targeted ads and fraudulent fees paid by legitimate advertisers. Most of the infected home computers are in Florida and Texas, and most major online advertising exchanges have been defrauded by the botnet.
Chameleon also included over 200 websites with content keyed to popular search terms and blanketed with ads in hopes of attracting extra Google traffic from unaware or distracted Internet users.