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As it turns out, much of this traffic was driven by the new malware scanner from AVG Technologies.
Six months ago, AVG acquired Exploit Prevention Labs and its Linkscanner, a tool that automatically scans search engine results before you click on them. If you search Google, for instance, and ten results turn up, it visits all ten links to ensure they’re malware free.
Then, in late April, AVG rolled Linkscanner into its anti-virus engine, which has about 70 million active users worldwide. The company estimates that 20 million machines have upgraded to the tool’s new incarnation, AVG version 8, and this has already cooked up enough ghost clicks to skew traffic not only on The Reg but any number of other sites as well.
Adam Beale, who runs a UK-based internet consultancy, says that across his small stable of clients, traffic has spiked as much as 80 per cent on some sites. And this is more than just an inconvenience. After all, sites live and die by their traffic numbers. And net resources aren’t free.
“Although [the AVG Linkscanner] might be good for the security of users, it’s a real pain for website owners and webmasters,” Beale tells us, having blogged about this growing problem. “It’s causing people to think their traffic is increasing, costing those who pay for bandwidth, and wasting disk space with large amounts of unnecessary lines in log files.”
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