what is data center ip?


James Hunt


Data centers play a fundamental role in our society and digital economy. Everything that happens online, is housed in a data center. In these buildings full of servers and other digital equipment, videos and other files are stored, important software runs, and data is exchanged between different networks that form a data distribution hub. The largest data center footprints come from the largest cloud and internet companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. For instance, a new site announced by Facebook creating 100 jobs is set to open in 2022 in the US, which is the leading location for data centers, followed by China. There are now more than 500 hyperscale data centers in the world.

However, with the rise of data center, online fraud and ad fraud has thrived. The weaponization of data center traffic represents a large part in the rise of ad fraud which costs $23 billion a year for online marketers.

Using data from CHEQ for instance we see that nearly 50% of online ad fraud attacks involve data center bot traffic. In this post we look closer at how bot operators use data center traffic to carry out all sorts of fraud, using bots to drain ad budgets.

Bots moving from data centers to residential IP addresses

Indeed, though many traditional attacks come via data centers which are using bot/automation tools, more sophisticated click fraud attacks require far more protection. In more and more cases attacks use a legitimate environment including residential networks. To appear even more human, today's bad bots increasingly use residential IP addresses instead of data center IPs, even though this is more expensive than center IPs. Secondly, bad bot traffic also deploys mobile ISPs when the cheaper residential or data center options are not effective. Thirdly, significant fraction of a bot attacks perpetrating ad fraud also use smartphones and PCs that have been infected with malware or compromised browsers, browser add-ons/ plugins, and apps.

In most cases we find that bot runners shelling out on expensive residential IPs or mobile ISP proxies are highly motivated. They will often also lie about the user agent, modify their fingerprints, as well as the HTTP headers sent out to investigators. It is a given that today's bots are almost indistinguishable from legitimate human traffic able to execute JavaScript, and leveraging real browsers or  browsers executed "headlessly"* such as Chrome, Firefox and internet explorer [ *headless browsers allow the execution of a full version of the latest  browser while controlling it programmatically. It can be used on servers without dedicated graphics or display, meaning that it runs without its “head”, the Graphical User Interface (GUI). In headless mode, it’s possible to navigate from page to page without human intervention, confirm JavaScript functionality and generate reports].

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