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It’s December, winter is here and you can just feel Christmas right around the corner. 

December, along with its many holiday traditions, is usually when you’ll run into almost every company’s yearly summary, showing how everything is bigger and better, throwing big numbers around in an attempt to showcase how awesome they are.

While that’s all fine and well, when conducting our research for this post we ran into another interesting trend that caught our attention.

A Bit of Background: 

While a new feature release is not usually a big deal, this one relies on a concept that went against the industry’s core belief – that all fraud can be blocked or at least identified in real time. 

Post-attribution is an additional layer of protection on top of our existing real time protection suite, meant to identify new fraud patterns as they materialize in our ecosystem and block them, even after the attribution takes place.

Fraudsters who are well educated about existing fraud prevention mechanisms, focusing their efforts ongoing through the install phase without being identified, are now less likely to go unnoticed.

Why is this important you ask?

Quite simply, it means breaking preconceptions about fraud patterns, where and when they originate and exposing yet another loophole that allowed fraudsters to thrive. 

Wait, Isn’t a Declining Trend a Bad Thing?

This declining trend is one we’re actually very proud of. 

Since the product relaunch in July, the number of AppsFlyer customers using Protect360 increased by 28%, however the number of attempted fraudulent attacks on AppsFlyer’s clients (presented in the graph) decreased by 33%!

The number of fraud attacks reflects an aggregation of actually blocked fraud and identified attempts, meaning that since July AppsFlyer managed to decrease its entire ecosystem’s exposure to fraud by 33%   

This figure is amplified by the fact that Appsflyer’s monthly measured install count grew by 9% in that time period. 

Many fraud prevention vendors take pride in the large number of installs they manage to block, however, the question that should be asked is: 

Why are they going through so many attacks in the first place?

The answer is simple.

Fraudsters are no longer working randomly, they do their due diligence and choose their targets wisely; fraudsters aim for the injured gazelles, the easy prey, where their attacks are most likely to go under the radar, an experienced fraudster would already know which protection mechanisms are easier to infiltrate and which are less likely to damage their ROI by identifying their activity as fraud. 

A weaker fraud prevention solution can easily be identified by fraudsters mapping their target’s servers calls during their BI process. This can be done using different tracking and web-sniffing tools available online.

Same goes for the attribution provider’s SDK, with some SDKs more vulnerable than others for hacking or reverse engineering; open source SDKs posing a much more appealing target than closed source ones, with their code exposed for anyone to see.

At the end of the day, fraudsters aim to achieve a positive ROI. They set their sights on specific targets that either don’t have active anti-fraud solutions in place, or ones using solutions they know how to bypass, steering away from protection solutions that are more likely to block them.

Simply put, AppsFlyer clients are significantly more protected against potential fraud attacks simply because they’ve chosen AppsFlyer in the first place.

Working On the Cure 

Several months ago, we discussed AppsFlyer’s commitment to not only treat the fraud disease but actually cure the industry from it.

The decline in fraud attacks attempted on our ecosystem shows we’re headed in the right direction. As we’re looking to truly solve the fraud issue rather than simply treating it, this fraud prevention trend fits into our vision of a fraud-free environment.  

But we’re not done yet.

If there’s anything to be learned from our experience in ad fraud prevention is that fraud is usually lurking in the corners where we assume it’s not.
No solution can ever be considered as bulletproof. This mentality is crucial to not only keep up with fraud, but possibly beat it to the punch, and to do that we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. The problems we don’t yet know about are the ones keeping us alert, as they’re the ones not reflected in the graph above.

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