Google May Be Facing a Moon Shot Challenge

February 17, 2020

DarkCyber wants to reflect on a challenge, a difficult one.

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DarkCyber read “Google Removes 500+ Malicious Chrome Extensions from the Web Store.” No, not a “the” store. The store is Google’s online store toward which every Android phone longs to visit. Some mobile devices have no choice. Other Android phones have some restraints, but “home is home.”

According to the write up:

The removed extensions operated by injecting malicious ads (malvertising) inside users’ browsing sessions. The malicious code injected by the extensions activated under certain conditions and redirected users to specific sites. In some cases, the destination would be an affiliate link on legitimate sites like Macys, Dell, or BestBuy; but in other instances, the destination link would be something malicious, such as a malware download site or a phishing page.

You should read the ZDNet story mentioned above and follow its links. However, the notion that DarkCyber has been noodling involves Google’s large online advertising business. Here are some questions we drafted after our morning call:

  • If the Google Android store is disseminating software which generates clicks, how will those affected advertisers be compensated?
  • What other ad centric spoofs or manipulations exist within the ad system for YouTube?
  • What malware or manipulative techniques operate within the core AdWords’ system?
  • What role to click bots or click farms play in manipulating Google’s online advertising data?
  • What about human Googler manipulation of advertising systems; for example, as quarters draw to a close?

DarkCyber only has these and a number of other questions. The answer to these questions may call into question the reliability, accuracy, and honesty of the Google online advertising operation.

If the answers fail to reassure advertisers and others, the strength of Google might become its most serious challenge in the company’s rise from objective search system to global online ad giant.

Challenge? Maybe multiple challenges: Credibility, legal, technical, and managerial.

Stephen E Arnold, February

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