Web Scraping, Credential Cracking and Ad Frauds

Updated: April 1, 2019
by Joe Garcia

I'm not an internet security expert, in fact, I know very little about it. But one thing I would avoid is to trust unknown web sources. To simply put, if I see new software, a plugin that looks like it does a good job, or any file that appears to be good to use on a website, I always google it first. If nothing comes up in Google search, then I'll stay away. It may sound extremely obvious to you, but developers continuously create the world's most innovating stuff, and a lot of which seem so inviting and real. I'm very tempted to give them a try, but I never know the consequences. A lot of the seemingly "innovative" software can be too good to be true. In fact, they can harm your website and business.

Web Scraping, Credential Cracking and Ad Fra

Scary Scripts

Importing third-party scripts, for example. A few years ago, I witnessed my friend importing a game script to his site and damaged his entire website. He got the script from someone he knew from a developers' forum. Unfortunately, the person who gave him the script disappeared shortly after the incident.

It may seem like a cool thing to add something unusual to your website and provide an enhanced experience to the visitors. However, you should also have a little bit of understanding of the harmful effects that scripts can create on websites. Then you will be able to take appropriate measures to overcome the negative consequences that you have to face in the future.

Even non-cybersecurity specialists like you and I know that there is a countless number of malware exist to create a negative impact on the security of your website. If you have an old plugin or script from a third-party up and running in your website or have a landing page template purchased from an untrusted source, you should pay particular attention to these factors. Then you will be able to take appropriate steps to overcome the adverse effects that you may experience.

Web Scraping

"Web scrapers" are able to steal the content of your site and display it illicitly on other websites. If you don’t do your own research, you will never be able to identify that the content on your website has been scraped.

When the content of your website is duplicated, you will have to end up with poor search engine rankings. As a result, you will only get a reduced number of visitors to your website. This can create a significant impact on your sales at the end of the day.

You need to keep in mind that your malicious competitors are using bots to keep an eye on you. Therefore, you should have a clear understanding of how to detect such instances. If you see the exact same content of your website on another website, you can suspect that web scrapers are responsible for it. Even your price changes would make your competitors change their prices rapidly. This is another tell-tale sign that you can use to detect the adverse effects created by scrapers.

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Credential Cracking

Credential cracking is a technique used by hackers when they are aware of a known username to log into your website. When they see a username, they just use bots to match a password to gain access to your site. Hackers create a "brute force" cracking software and have it to search for passwords.

In most of the instances, website owners tend to use their email addresses as the username. This makes life easier for hackers to go ahead with credential cracking. You need to be mindful about this when you have some script from unknown source installed on your website as well, as the script can attract those malicious hackers' attention.

The credential cracking bots are intelligent enough to detect the common passwords that people tend to use in their websites. They are quick enough to validate the login credentials within a short period as well. Then they are in a position to go ahead with account takeovers.

You can detect these attempts with careful observation as well. If you notice that there is an unusual rate of failed login attempts on the website, you need to understand that a credential cracking attempt is about to take place. You must also take a look at the user directory as well as the authentication logs to look for such signs.

Ad Frauds

ClearCode explains that an "Ad Fraud" is performed by dishonest publishers to increase their revenues by generating more ad traffic.

Ad frauds give a negative impact on websites, and the businesses lose a considerable amount of money. Online advertisers always expect that their ads will be able to attract the eyes of visitors. But in reality, their ads are visible to both humans as well as bots. If an advertisement is seen by a bot, there is no positive gain that the advertiser can gain out of it.

In the meantime, the publishers are looking to enhancing the advertisement revenues while increasing the total number of advertisements that they offer as well. In other words, they are only concerned about the CPM charged. When the bots try to take place the place of humans, the serving resources of the advertisements will be drained. In here, the entire revenue and traffic generated by the advertisements will be directed to the malicious developers who created the fraud bots. This will not just lead the websites towards loss of income, but it can also create a significant impact on the positive reputation.

You will be able to spot these issues with a careful eye as well. If you see there is a steep decline in the volume of conversions, you need to assume that the ad frauds are doing something, especially when there is no change in the keyword bids. The lower user engagement rates is another tell-tale sign that can help you to detect ad frauds. Therefore, you need to pay a lot of attention to this fact and make sure that you don’t end up with any negative consequences.


You can avoid these malicious security threats by staying away from unknown programming sources. If you use WordPress with the latest theme, use only the most recent and popular plugins, and have it hosted by a secure web hosting company, you'll be unlikely to encounter such problems. From time to time, we see some "developers" offer to pay you to test their new software or script code. As much as that kind of invitation can sound tempting, I would advise you not to participate unless you know what you are doing.

About the author 

Joe Garcia

An adventurer who is self-starting, quick to learn, and well organized. It is my privilege to work with Ray Alexander as his assistant. I occasionally write for this website on various work-from-home business topics, with Ray's help as I am still learning English. Originally from Spain, I now live in the UK.

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