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Anatomy of Mobile Ad Fraud: Click Hijacking

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

With every online transaction, a person becomes more vulnerable to become a target for online fraud in this growing technology era. When we talk about any type of fraud in mobile marketing, one should have a full set of knowledge about susceptibility every fraud process holds within, its functionality, the resulting consequences, and how to detect such fraud.

Before discussing the susceptibility and the consequences of frauds, let us first discuss the most common type of frauds trending today, click hijacking. Let us first mention what is click hijacking, how it is pacing ways and ruling the internet.

What is Click Hijacking?

Click hijacking is a very common fraud of mobile click and installs that will send deceptive click reports a few moments after the actual click pops up. Generally, it is activated by malware that is easily hidden in apps that are completely legalised apps or those that are downloaded via third-party app stores.

How does Click Hijacking work?

When any single click is detected, the malware will send you a wrong click report copied from an engaging network, productively hijacking the click and making any leading to installs. To find click hijacking, utilise the raw data reports to recognise sources sending clicks following after the formerly recorded click from a competing network, in case you have multi-click attribution enabled.

When any user clicks on the app store icon for the installation no matter how they went there, it catches the eye of the fraudster. The fraudster will check if they can get access to a campaign that promotes the app being installed and hijacks its clicks, leading to accreditation in install.

Vulnerabilities are taken for granted in click hijacking in comparison to click spamming and is coming from the most crucial- the app store. Any app when submitted to the app store should go through stages of reviews and approvals. Until now, there are ample fraudsters that are easily able to fool people, but in the actual world there can be more testing processes. The apps that include any kind of ineffective and dangerous software could have been detected and banned before getting the interest of any fraudster or any user.


We have often seen the cases of ample elements of the advertiser’s being pretentious. Initially. Click hijacking causes harm to the app developer deliberately and clearly which is similar to click spamming, the organic installs are here misunderstood as paid installs. This clearly implies that the advertiser has to pay for something he already is the owner of.

But, that’s not all. There’s more to add here!

The apps marketing KPIs are fully clogged through this and the real performance of the fraudster is not presented here, rather the paper performance is shown which seems to look good but is actually a loss to another partner.

  • Confusion among advertisers: The advertisers are in utter confusion afterward. The deceitful person here will get an advantage while the non-deceitful person will suffer loss since all these installs are hijacked. The well-known facts state that the deceitful campaign will automatically fail if the non- deceitful campaign is not performing well. This is because both of them are interrelated and even then the hijackers are not revealed. The one who initiates or hosts the click hijacking ultimately wins.

  • Hidden Ad placement: Ample installs are brought about for the ad placements hidden in it, as the hijackers most often only choose their malevolent code in some share/ratio of all impressions ranging from like 1/10 or 1/15, for example. It can still be stated by legalised bidders as the main ad placement for user addition, which implies that it would get voluminous CPM bids for its inventory.

How is click hijacking detected?

CR appears to be rising in click hijacking because the users are unaware but CTIT will be between 0-20 seconds because the hijacker is assigned the right click prior to the install starts. Check if the assigned platform provides some form of user journey navigating you can then see the deceitful company will continuously pop up between installs.

  • Example 1: Recall the popular case of spiteful code SDK, the Chinese company Mintegral which deliberately disguised itself that offers help to several app developers and advertisers. It aimed to monetise their apps productively along with ads. It was later discovered that the company was working to steal the revenue from ample ad networks. Mintegral made a clever move by not hijacking every link, rather just picking randomly one out of ten clicks. They made it harder for people to understand their fraudulent activities and were making their easy way to move out.

Not just one, but there are several other cases that will tell you about the smart play of various companies and their codes that led to big frauds and causing threats to the people.

How can we avoid click hijacking?

Click Hijacking is much common today and the prevention of such crime is really becoming difficult these days. It’s not like other crimes like SQL injection or CSRF because this is based on frames, a very popular functionality used today. But there is a cloud of hope every time we face some glitch, below mentioned are some ways you should practice to avoid or prevent click hijacking and other crimes as well.

Every mobile marketer should always confirm that their web applications are safe and protected from any kind of threat so that they do not grant access to third-parties to interfere with them.

Solution 1: Don’t forget to pick an intelligent, time effective, properly directed WAF that will act as your application’s battlement controlling any defective requests from giving it allowance through any minor flaw while straight away mending susceptibilities till the developer corrects them. It repetitively scans for threats, giving access to custom terms, and ensures zero or fallacious positives.

Solution 2: Another preventive measure for click hijacking attacks could be to include X-Frame-Options HTTP headers that promise that your web application or its counterparts are not being entangled in frames, iFrames, or on pages or domains.

In a nutshell,

The internet and technology today are growing phenomenal and revolving around not just our lives but in those of cyber-criminals as well. They are also today grasping the release of technology to discover some new and smart ways to generate hacks, spiteful attacks, contraventions, and many more. There are numerous people who are roaming in search of doing enormous frauds causing you big fat loss. But taking the right kind of prevention and having certain knowledge will definitely lead you towards a safer and better online experience.

As per several surveys, today internet frauds are simultaneously touching the sky and don’t seem to be slowing down. They have been ruling over the internet with a dominant share today in the market. Several cases in the past have been reported, present cases are being reported and even in the forthcoming future are being forecasted to rise with time. Lives today are wholly dependent on technology and the only way to act smart is to get certain specific knowledge of several terms and frauds.

Author : Auhsini Das

About Her : With a Data Science degree from IIT Madras, Aushini enrich audience with her high quality tech articles. Having +5 years of experience in content writing, She work passionately to create copy that converts, with a focus on maintaining your authentic brand voice.


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