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A $1 billion Russia-based criminal gang has been bilking online advertisers by impersonating high-profile Web sites like ESPN, Vogue, CBS Sports, Fox News and the Huffington Post and selling phony ad slots, but that’s about to end.

Online fraud-prevention firm White Ops is releasing data today that will enable online advertisers and ad marketplaces to block the efforts of the group, which is cashing in on its intimate knowledge of the automated infrastructure that controls the buying and selling of video ads.

The group has been ramping up its activities since October so that it now reaps roughly $3 million to $5 million per day from unsuspecting advertisers and gives them nothing in return, says White Ops, which discovered the first hints of the scam in September.

When someone clicks on a video that’s posted to a Web page, the video is often preceded by a short advertising video known as pre-roll. The pre-roll slot is sold realtime – within 100 milliseconds – via an automated auction. That click to request the video is what initiates the ad auction, and the browser directly receives the pre-roll from the advertiser that wins, says White Ops CEO Michael Tiffany.

The system relies on information provided by the browser to verify what site the browser user is visiting and that it actually receives the pre-roll ad. “The ecosystem believes what the browser says about what site you’re at,” he says.

Beware Methobot

The gang, which Tiffany calls AFT13, has created a robo-browser called Methbot that spoofs all the necessary interactions needed to initiate, carry out and complete the ad transactions. So Methbot contacts an ad exchange and says it needs a pre-roll for a video on Vogue.com, for example. The system runs an instant auction, settles on an ad and sends it to Methbot, which verifies that it received it and played it.

Then the advertiser pays the entity the website that the browser claimed to be visiting, but that entity resolves ultimately to AFK13, not to Voguecom, in this example, he says.

INSIDER: Traditional anti-virus is dead: Long live the new and improved AV

Beyond this, AFK13 spoofs the geolocation of the IP addresses that the Methbot servers use so it seems they are all owned by U.S. internet service providers. The proxy IP addresses mask the fact that Methbot traffic is generated by servers as opposed to individual personal computers generating legitimate traffic. It also hides that the servers are located in data centers in Dallas and Amsterdam.

This helps Methbot duck detection mechanisms that look for a few IP addresses that generate enormous volumes of requests Tiffany says, enabling AFK13 to sell 200 million to 300 million false ad impressions per day for 1.3 cents per view on average, White Ops says. The fraud network does its work from an estimated 800 to 1,000 nodes in its data centers and operates 24 hours per day, with a sales cycle of 5 seconds per impression.

Methbot further avoids detection by selling the ads on more than 6,000 domains representing about 250,000 URLs.

To pull this all off, AFK13 has amassed an impressive infrastructure that includes:

The servers that generate all the Methbot browser activity.

A bank of 500,000 IPv4 addresses (worth about $4 million if sold on the open market).

A means of registering those IP addresses so they appear to be allocated to U.S. ISPs.

Methbot software.

The software has been upgraded over the period that White Ops became aware of it, Tiffany says. For example, White Ops first caught on to the scam when it noted a small error in an HTTP header used by the group. One value, known as Cache-Control, contained a colon, which violated the specification for that value. Since then the error has been corrected.

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Ultra Villa, theworld’s first luxury portal for ultra-lifestyles, is expanding into excitingnew sectors:  UltraLodge, UltraSail,UltraSki and UltraIslands.  The new-looksite also now has UltraBoutique and UltraResort categories, which will showcasetrue gems of hotels and resorts that should be on every luxury lover’s radar.

 

Ultra Lodge shines the spotlight on theworld’s most prestigious lodges, making it even easier to walk on the wildside.  This section will be populated byspecialists offering safaris, wilderness experiences, extreme landscapes, andsporting and hiking centres have all been carefully vetted with the samerigorous approach to quality that helped establish UltraVilla as the ‘littleblack book’ of luxury villa rental experts.

 

Ultra Sail ispoised to deliver access to small, niche operators in the yacht world, as wellas ocean and river cruises.  UltraIslandswill showcase a remarkable collection of private islands or islands that housejust one resort – for those who truly want to get away from it all, either withfriends and family or for their own ‘Robinson Crusoe’ castaway experience àdeux.

 

UltraVilla’sselectionof experts dealing in the most extravagant chalets and ski apartments will nowbe housed in its own section, UltraSki, with many more joining soon, ensuringthis will be a true global showcase of the very best. The brand new sectionswill be populated in the coming months so watch this space!  The redesigned website is also even easier tonavigate, and now includes a ‘New’ section to highlight the latest members tobe welcomed into the UltraVilla family. Having passed the stringent vetting process, this month sees six newexperts add their portfolios to the directory:

 

- InVillas Veritas – Laura Blair brings her appreciation ofelegance and the very best to the Turks and Caicos. Her offerings in Punta Mitarange from contemporary and luxurious sea and golf view haciendas to exquisitebeachfront estates.

 

-Pamela Murdock – A long time lover of the Bahamas, Pamelarepresents a wonderful range of properties on charming Harbour Island fromclassic Bahamian cottages to beach houses -including an ultra cool contemporarymasterpiece.   She shares her insidertips with clients, such as when is the best time to get a table for lunch atSip Sip, who sells the tastiest jalepeño cheese bread, where the best desertedisland is to have a picnic and where to find the best barbeque (Hint: There’sno sign. Follow the delicious smell to the house with Christmas lights onDunmore Street).

- AmaraMyanmar – Originally founded by a member of the Burmese aristocracyto host European philanthropists who were supporting her foundation postCyclone Nargis, a share of profits go to the Amara Foundation. Amara’s ownunique offerings are:

* The two teak river boats, Amara I and II have only 5 and 7cabins respectively, and a divine crew. Forget anything else claiming to thebest on the Irrawaddy – this is the only way to travel in luxury and privacy,taking in Bagan and Mandalay, and the joys of rural riverine Myanmar on theway.

* The Amara Ocean resort. Three kilometres of perfectprivate tropical beach in this 25 teak bungalow resort set in the palm groves,on the soft, sandy coastline of Northern Ngapali.  Enjoy spas, excursions to local markets andpagodas, and night-time fishing.

* The Amara Mountain Resort. It really is ‘Tales from theRaj’ in this 10-bedroom lodge in the foothills of the Himalayas, as you play golf,trek gentle paths, meet the colourful local tribes and snuggle by the fire oncrisp mountain nights.

- IsolaSanta Cristina – Exclusive to UltraVilla member SiglindeFischer/Charming Places and a brand new property to the market, Isola SantaCristina is a private island situated in the Venetian Lagoon. Arrive by theowner’s private launch to be met by peacocks strutting on the lawn in front ofthe villa; enjoy your own private nature reserve on this historical islandestate, complete with apricot orchard and vineyard.

 

 Two new members COMING SOON:

- Schloss Kogl in Salzburg – A picture perfect,fully-staffed castle on Lake Woerthersee with a backdrop of the Alps, and themagical town of Salzburg a stone’s throw away – the perfect base for a culturalstay during the summer Festspielen or January Mozarteum music festivals, orjust to soak up Austrian culture and culinary glories, to follow the Sound ofMusic trail, or enjoy the plentiful sports and hiking opportunities of the lakeand mountains.

- Also look out for Excellence Villas, a great new Italianspecialist.

www.ultravilla.com

 

-ENDS-

 

About UltraVilla

UltraVilla began as an invitation-only consortium for theworld’s leading independent specialist villa experts (limited to the top 5% intheir fields) established to provide a hallmark of excellence in that  sector. Now encompassing the best of the bestin elite travel experiences, it offers a trusted directory, not a bookingengine, for high-end travellers and travel agents to the world’s top holidayrental experts working with the most exclusive villas, private houses, lodges,chalets, private yachts, private islands, boutique hotels  and apartments.UltraVilla was founded by industry leaders Ileana von Hirsch of Five StarGreece, Andrew Loyd of Loyd Townsend Rose and Marina Gratsos of Carpe DiemLuxury Travel.

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GillesPeterson (pictured) has been announced as part of thenext round of speakers for EMC 2015, Asia-Pacific's leading electronic musicindustry event.

 

The legendary radio DJ and label founder will be joined in conversationby Future Classic-signed Perth producer Ta-ku at the December 1-2 conference,which will take over Sydney's Ivy complex for the first time.

 

A stack of other industry names have also been added,including Liz Miller from Beatport, Zouk Kuala Lumpur resident Blink andAustralian DJ Tigerlilly. Keynote speaker Carl Cox was the first to beannounced back in June.

 

Check out EMC 2015's full list of speakers below. Head hereto pick up a pass.

 

EMC first speaker announcement

Carl Cox (Artist/DJ, UK)

Gilles Peterson (Brownswood Recordings / BBC, UK)

Ta-ku (Artist, AUST)

Liz Miller (Beatport, USA)

Blake Coppelson (Proximity, USA)

Tigerlily (Artist, AUST)

Denise Melanson (AM Only, USA)

Rob Woo (Spin Artist Agency, USA)

Blink (Artist / Head of Programming, Goldfish & Blink /Zouk Club KL, Malaysia)

Anna Fitzgerald (Ministry of Sound, AUST)

Martin Novosel (Purple Sneakers, AUST)

Erin Flanagan (Thinking Loud/Boiler Room, AUST)

Zaran Vachha (The Little Black Book Asia, Hong Kong)

Karen Hamilton (120 Publishing, AUST)

Jessica Krishnaswamy (BBE, AUST)

Reggie Ba-Pe (Sonically Transmitted Disease, China)

Pia Del Mastro (One Plus One Agency, AUST)

Vanessa Picken (Comes With Fries, AUST)

Laura Treacy, (Ministry of Sound, AUST)

Ayudita Hariadi (Ismaya Group, Indonesia)

Kimberley Yao (The Palace Group, Philippines)

Rebecca Florence (Flow & Hustle, AUST)

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