Earlier this year, millions of people tuned in to watch ads on smart TVs and consumer streaming products. Except there was one problem – they weren’t human at all. In fact, they were the result of a massive botnet of nearly a million infected Android phones.
The botnet used dozens of mobile apps to impersonate or spoof more than 6,000 CTV apps on popular devices such as Roku players, Apple TVs, Amazon Fire Sticks, LG Smart TVs and Google Chromecast players. In total, this accounted for an average of 650 million ad requests every day – presenting a huge problem for advertisers in determining what (human) viewers saw their content.
This event – caused by the PARETO botnet – is just one example of the devices all around our world being turned into a digital army against us. While bots have historically been seen primarily as a problem for advertisers or ecommerce, the reality is that these attacks today have growing and significant cybersecurity implications for businesses and governments everywhere. This botnet risk has increased significantly in scale in recent years – resulting today in an estimated 77% of all security and fraud exposures.
Leveraging botnets, cybercriminals can send billions of fake requests to create fake accounts, take over accounts, contaminate user data, and snipe or hoard online goods and services. Perhaps the most prominent example was the Mirai botnet attack in 2016 that infected IoT devices around the world and leveraged them to take down significant portions of the Internet. Businesses are beginning to pay attention. 90% of security leaders have identified bot management as a top five priority due to the severity and the sophistication of cyberattacks, according to a recent survey by research and analyst group ESG.
This isn’t a problem that will go away any time soon. In fact, it is likely only going to increase in 2022 and beyond as our personal and work lives become increasingly more connected and the volume of IoT and OT devices continues to explode at an astronomical rate globally. To combat this, we need a solution to determine what is human, and what is not.
This problem is exactly why NightDragon is excited to announce we are continuing our investment in HUMAN Security (formerly WhiteOps) by participating in a $100 million growth round alongside lead investor WestCap. HUMAN is a company standing on the frontlines of this problem as the global leader in collective protection against sophisticated bot attacks and fraud.
To those on the outside, today’s bots look more human than ever before. But HUMAN knows how to tell the difference and helps verify the humanity of more than 15 trillion interactions per week, then uses that data to protect the world’s largest enterprises and internet platforms from sophisticated bot attacks and fraud across the domains of application security, digital advertising, and performance marketing.
As an existing investor in HUMAN, we have seen first-hand the company’s differentiation. Its advanced algorithms and expansive traffic visibility make it one of the most sophisticated bot protection platforms out there. We also see the immense opportunity for the company to continue expanding its cybersecurity portfolio and scale its market reach, as well as growing other business areas. In addition to credibility around its technology, we have also seen the power of the team, including CEO Tamer Hassan, to scale this business, including a doubling year over year and counting some of the world’s largest enterprises and internet platforms as customers.
The new $100 million growth round will help fuel further growth, including faster global expansion. We believe NightDragon is a valuable partner to support this growth, including continuing our efforts to advance their talent, sophistication in the cybersecurity industry, commercial and government partnership strategy and other key growth areas.
As we realize the benefits of connectivity, we also need to come to terms with the risk. We look forward to continue partnering with the HUMAN team on this important mission and bringing that human visibility to organizations around the world.