Maybe reconsider deleting that old battery-hog app

The lengths some people will go through to avoid working a 9-5 job are just incredible. What we're seeing here today is a fraudster campaign perpetrated by an unnamed "Company X" discovered fitting itself in-between ad networks and their final target, the everyday average Android smartphone user. They did it by hiding, and they did it by draining your battery while they hid.

A team of investigators at DoubleVerify did a whole lot of investigating to uncover a scheme by bad actors posing as legitimate mobile advertisement servers. They've apparently done their deeds in such a way as to go nearly completely undetected because of the extra-clever way in which they implemented their software. They didn't even really commit fraud, so to speak, but deceived both the ad companies they worked with and the user at the other end of the equation.

What went down

There's a phone and an app, quite possible a mobile game. The game has an advertisement banner in it that appears from time to time. The ad looks harmless enough, and indeed it is – it's literally a standard advertisement that's doing no extra harm to anyone. It's what's behind the ad that we're looking at today.

The fraudster takes advantage of an opportunity, something of a pyramid scheme of ad sales, so to speak. They buy the ad space like a normal advertiser would, but instead of placing one ad, they place several. They provide ad code which looks like a standard ad – and might well be one, single, standard ad. But behind that ad is several other ads.

Legitimate companies looking to advertise on mobile apps and games are caught up in this scheme just as much as end-users. Legitimate companies buy ads from legitimate ad representatives, who at some point got caught up in working with malicious entities looking to serve themselves alone.

The good news is that this scheme was detected and is largely shut down – at least with the networks that were affected in the recent past. The bad news is that unwitting apps served massive amounts of ads without knowing. You might've been served HELLA ads without ever having known about it. Only your friendly ad server knows for sure.

The takeaway, in a nutshell

It would appear that some apps and games in the recent past got unwittingly caught up in a scheme that served massive amounts of ads where one ad should have been served. As such, these apps or games probably drained user batteries VERY fast, and made said users suspicious enough to delete said apps or games.

YOU might want to look back at your app and/or mobile game activity over the last few years and think: "Did I delete any app or game just because it seemed to drain my battery super fast?" There's a chance that the maker of said app didn't know what was happening, and was just as much a victim of this scheme as anyone else. Consider giving them another shot at your patronage, with caution!