Your online interests-Pwned! A pollution attack against targeted advertising

Wei Meng, Xinyu Xing, Anmol Sheth, Udi Weinsberg, Wenke Lee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present a new ad fraud mechanism that enables publishers to increase their ad revenue by deceiving the ad exchange and advertisers to target higher paying ads at users visiting the publisher's site. Our attack is based on polluting users' online interest profile by issuing requests to content not explicitly requested by the user, such that it influences the ad selection process. We address several challenges involved in setting up the attack for the two most commonly used ad targeting mechanisms-re-marketing and behavioral targeting. We validate the attack for one of the largest ad exchanges and empirically measure the monetary gains of the publisher by emulating the attack using web traces of 619 real users. Our results show that the attack is effective in biasing ads towards the desired higher-paying advertisers; the polluter can influence up to 74% and 12% of the total ad impressions for re-marketing and behavioral pollution, respectively. The attack is robust to diverse browsing patterns and online interests of users. Finally, the attack is lucrative and on average the attack can increase revenue of fraudulent publishers by as much as 33%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages129-140
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450329576, 9781450329576, 9781450331470, 9781450331500, 9781450331517, 9781450331524, 9781450331531, 9781450331548, 9781450331555, 9781450332392
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 3 2014
Event21st ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2014 - Scottsdale, United States
Duration: Nov 3 2014Nov 7 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security
ISSN (Print)1543-7221

Other

Other21st ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2014
CountryUnited States
CityScottsdale
Period11/3/1411/7/14

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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  • Cite this

    Meng, W., Xing, X., Sheth, A., Weinsberg, U., & Lee, W. (2014). Your online interests-Pwned! A pollution attack against targeted advertising. In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (pp. 129-140). (Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/2660267.2687258