Oracle Opens the Lid on a Major Ad-fraud Operation: DrainerBot

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Android phones are great phones for sure. However, they suffer from the issue of the sudden battery down syndrome. It’s the condition when the phone battery suddenly runs low for no apparent reason. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can leave you frustrated and annoyed.

Well, it turns out that a piece of advertising software or code called DrainerBot may be the culprit behind this. According to the researchers at Oracle, the software could be responsible for eating up millions of Android users’ mobile data, leading to battery drainage. The sneaky element, which the company says is at the center of a massive ad-fraud operation, operates by downloading gigabytes of video ads to an individual’s smartphone and then showing them invisibly to users of apps that have been infected by the code.

Affecting hundreds of Android apps that have been downloaded over 10 million times, the invisible code makes use of the mobile data connection and processing power of the phone to consume more than 10 GB of extra data usage per month.

According to Eric Roza, senior vice president at Oracle, it is not that consumers are only harmed by the advertising software, but the marketers and the app developers. The code brings marketers to a loss by wasting their money by selling ads that hardly anyone sees. It also destroys the image of app developers who were not aware of its existence. He also said that the operation is a crime with three layers of victims.

The researchers at Oracle first came across DrainerBot last year, when network analysts noticed an unusual rise in data traffic from some Android devices. Gradually they claimed that the Netherlands-based company Tapcore is responsible for distributing the advertising code. Tapcore was extremely surprised by the allegations made against it by Oracle and defended itself saying it was not involved in the case and that it helps software developers get paid via advertising when software pirates use their apps in an illegitimate manner.

Tapcore also said that they introduced an internal probe into the matter at full scale to find out the hidden truth behind it and that they would be providing updates as they become available.

Mike Zaneis, CEO of the Trustworthy Accountability Group, said, “These types of fraud operations cross all four of TAG’s programmatic pillars, including fraud, piracy, malware and transparency, and preventing such operations will require unprecedented cross-industry collaboration. We are delighted to work with Oracle to educate and inform TAG’s membership about this emerging threat.”

According to technology giant Google, it has blacklisted all of the infected apps claimed by Oracle and is investigating the two remaining apps by Oracle that were still active on the Google Play Store. The other apps on Oracle’s list either never appeared on Google’s app store or were eliminated for other reasons. Google said, “Google Play Developer policies prohibit deceptive and malicious behavior on our platform. If an app violates our policies, we take action.”

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Rennie played instrumental role in formation of Hitech News Daily team. She handles the editorial tasks and is helped by a team of contributors. Rennie has over 10 years of experience in news industry in general and 5 years of experience in the online new world. Her interests include new technology innovations as well as gaming.

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