Clicking Agent - A curse or myth for advertisers?
Clicking Agent has no doubt created a storm with the ability to simulate clicks on adverts within web site pages using proxies. It does so in a very clever way.
We downloaded a free copy of clicking agent and installed it on our
testing computer. Anything of such dubious nature should always be initially
regarded as suspect, so we use a spare computer connected to its own
IP and firewall.
A couple of points about clicking agent. If you are on a wireless or other home network, it probably will not work unless you can access the routers main page at 192.168.1.1 (The user by default is blank and the password is admin), to alter the security settings. Clicking Agent was initially designed with dial up or direct modem connection to the internet in mind. We can confirm that Clicking Agent programme and there web site is spy and nasty bug free.
The first thing to do is select all the proxies that come with Clicking
Agent and delete them all. The proxy list is old and most proxies are
no longer valid.
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By the time we had played around with the various features in Clicking Agent and overcome the frustration of a reasonably mild learning curve, I was starting to realise how this very clever and simple to use piece of software could be a threat in experienced hands.
To simulate the possibilities of using Clicking Agent for dishonest
means. We set up one of our domains as the 'referring site' and put a
link to the 'target site' (another domain) on its index page.
The truth is, that in certain hands, Clicking Agent can do exactly
what it says on the box.
Programme's like Clicking Agent do however pose a threat in the hands of more determined and experienced. While making a fortune may be short lived due to the many tracking safeguards used by advertisers, those in the know could use Clicking Agent and proxy programs like it to generate false clicks on a smaller scale. When you consider that online advertising will produce around 15 Billion dollars this year (10 billion dollars from the big G alone!) Even a tiny percentage of that could amount to considerable money. The ad industry looses around 15% to bad clicks as confirmed by Google and other providers, so around 2 billion dollars was made last year by fraudulent or invalid clicks. Providing this stays at an acceptable level in the ad industry, it will be built in to profits and absorbed as an acceptable loss. All companies use a formulae where there comes a point at which, pursuing further checking is more costly than the amount saved. When you consider the enormity of clicks produced at a few cents each to produce billions in revenue, you may realise that processing power and time are limited when checking validity.
However, advertisers are safe again as the limitation of programme's like Clicking Agent, is a supply of good proxy IP's.
The problem with all proxy disguised clicks is the constantly changing
nature of proxies. Clicking Agent can import proxy lists and clean them,
giving the facility to filter out countries and proxy types. But getting
up to date proxy lists is not easy and bear in mind that while a proxy
may be good and active today, tomorrow or in an hours time, it could
disappear or end up on a banned list by tracking companies like showmyip.com.
So any clicks generated on that IP address will immediately be flagged
Or, they join an elite site providing paid for daily lists of fresh
proxy IP's. While these lists are quite useful to hackers or mounting
junk mail campaigns, etc. Fortunately, they have little value for generating
false clicks as most of these proxy servers are in places like Russia
and China. The makers of Clicking Agent even have a utility ProXYZ, software
that will search for and verify proxy servers either by IP range or from
proxy list sites on the Internet.
The Clicking Agent site has a few pages of advice on clicking matters, which provides an easy 'get started' guide for novices and how to cheat the system. I quote:-
In summary therefore, Clicking Agent itself works. The weakness is as always, a supply of good proxy IP addresses. If you believe the hype about getting rich quick from using Clicking Agent and start using it for that purpose, you WILL be caught. If however you fall within the small virtually impossible to detect 'click cheaters' category who are already using sophisticated scripting to perpetrate their deeds, then something like Clicking Agent or ProXYZ could provide a valuable addition to their arsenal.
But wait. If you possess the ability to do all this, you also possess the ability to take the sites you are using and promote them across the Internet to top position on all search engines and make an HONEST fortune from affiliate advertising with Commission Junction and blue chip advertisers!
If you want to know more about how to do that, read some of our other articles at http://www.cvanci.com/articles.html
If you are a webmaster or site owner and concerned over security, we suggest updating your servers list of banned proxy IP's by subscribing to our daily 'black list' of currently working elite anonymous proxy IP's. These are commonly used for server attacks and hacking. You can see an example at http://www.cvanci.com/proxies/proxies.html
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