Emulated devices, alternatively referred to as device emulators, encompass virtual replications of physical devices. These simulations mirror the operational behaviors, functionalities, and appearances of genuine devices. The primary purpose of emulated devices is to provide developers with a platform to examine software applications, systems, and debug efforts within a digital environment prior to their official deployment. Despite their advantageous features, emulated devices can be misused by malicious individuals to disrupt legitimate paid advertising campaigns.
Emulated devices denote mobile operating systems functioning on non-mobile apparatuses. Developers commonly employ device emulators on their laptops to assess their products across diverse devices or operating systems, obviating the necessity to procure and configure various physical devices. For instance, a developer aiming to evaluate their application’s performance on different iterations of iOS, such as 9, 10, and 11, spanning devices like the iPhone 7, 8, and X, can achieve this without the need to acquire and set up each individual device. Another notable attribute of these emulated devices lies in their capacity to be automated for programmatically executed tasks, eliminating the requirement for human intervention.
Emulated devices can be exploited within the realm of mobile advertising. Fraudulent actors utilize scripted emulators to repetitively engage with paid ad campaigns, install applications, and execute conversions, all with the intention of siphoning off advertising budgets. This nefarious manipulation involves employing emulated devices to carry out actions that emulate genuine user behaviors, ultimately diverting marketers’ allocated ad expenditure into the pockets of these malicious entities.
The fraudulent application of emulated devices often transcends their basic simulation concept. Perpetrators go a step further by meticulously programming these emulators to interact with advertising campaigns, install apps, and undertake in-app activities, thereby fabricating fictitious user engagements. These contrived actions, distinctively fraudulent due to their origin from non-human sources, deplete marketing budgets while channeling marketers’ financial investments directly into the coffers of fraudsters.