The business of Faucets

The business of Faucets

February 4, 2021 3 By @LukeLarsen

What is a faucet and why should you care?

Since the beginning of 2016 Pyrin has been operating as a faucet. A faucet is a type of business model which in the most basic terms shows users ads and then the users get paid for viewing them. The term faucet is mostly used on cryptocurrency-based websites. While there are websites that will do similar things for USD it normally just referred to as PTC (pay to click). Faucets were created by people who wanted to increase the adoption of cryptocurrency by adding another way for people to get it outside of mining which in the beginning was hard for people to understand. In today’s modern-day and age, Faucets have quite a few problems as a business model, the worst of which is something everyone is struggling with, bots.

For those who don’t know, or want a refresher on, what bots are; bots are computer programs that imitate users. Bots have been defined into multiple different generations based on how much they look and act like a human. Currently, we have four defined bot types, imaginatively named First through Fourth generation bots. First Gen bots are scraping tools, these tools are used by companies like google to find websites and index them for their search engine. Second generation bots use what is known as a “headless” browser, which is like a standard browser but doesn’t show any user interface. These bots maintain cookies and execute Javascript which allows them to interact with the website. Third generation bots use normal browsers and simulate keystrokes and mouse movements. This allows them to evade some types of standard bot detection. Fourth-generation bots are the newest type and are basically indistinguishable from standard human users. There are many different uses for fourth-gen bots in the wild but for the purposes of our article they are used to continuously claim from faucets, attack advertisers, scam from offer walls, and destroy the experience for normal users on the site through DDOS Style attacks.

Small robot

For those who don’t know, or want a refresher on, what bots are; bots are computer programs that imitate users. Bots have been defined into multiple different generations based on how much they look and act like a human. Currently, we have four defined bot types, imaginatively named First through Fourth generation bots. First Gen bots are scraping tools, these tools are used by companies like google to find websites and index them for their search engine. Second generation bots use what is known as a “headless” browser, which is like a standard browser but doesn’t show any user interface. These bots maintain cookies and execute Javascript which allows them to interact with the website. Third generation bots use normal browsers and simulate keystrokes and mouse movements. This allows them to evade some types of standard bot detection. Fourth-generation bots are the newest type and are basically indistinguishable from standard human users. There are many different uses for fourth-gen bots in the wild but for the purposes of our article they are used to continuously claim from faucets, attack advertisers, scam from offer walls, and destroy the experience for normal users on the site through DDOS Style attacks.

From 2016 up until 2019 most of the bots that were being used against Pyrin were unsophisticated generation one and two bots, with an occasional generation three. A good example of non-advanced types of bots would be here faucet collector. Most of these could be detected by setting up honey pots and changing around the environment frequently enough that the bot developers would get lazy and go for an easier target. These strategies allowed Pyrin to create a small community of real people who it was helping. Most of its users lived in different countries and areas where a few American dollars would go a long way, especially if it was in a trusted crypto-currency like bitcoin. Most of the time that Pyrin was running, it kept up like this. It started to turn more into a business and did more advertising when I realized that it could be profitable, and by doing this I quietly spelled my own demise.

What did bots do to Pyrin?

Pyrin was a hobby for me for the majority of its running time, only in the past year did I realize it could be made into a business. I had no idea what I was bringing onto myself when I started advertising and making the site more public. The bot developers came and worked constantly to ensure their bots worked and found ways to use email accounts multiple times. One good example of this is a little-known trick with google emails where you can put periods in your email and create new inboxes (ie. [email protected] and [email protected] and [email protected] all go to [email protected]) This was pretty simple to fix, just get rid of the periods when storing the data and you can rid yourself of the problem of multiple accounts, but they always seemed one step ahead.

Another one of the main reasons why this didn’t happen to me in 2016 was that back then nobody used custom faucet scripts. I wasn’t the first but at that time it was a rare feat, and it was much easier for bot creators to just go after users who used the standard faucet box script. No one uses a standard script at this point in time, almost all still existing faucets use something custom in one way or another, meaning that bot creators already have to put in the work, so they just go after the most popular and highest-earning scripts. I was now in the line of fire.

Now if the bots claimed from the faucet and went on their way that would be one thing, it may damage my income slightly but I would be able to recover. What actually happened was offer walls, advertising websites, ad networks, and anyone associated with pyrin would get abused by bots designed to get the most money they could. I would never get money I had expected at the end of the month. Advertising parties wouldn’t pay because too much of my traffic was abusive. In one month I had four advertising companies drop me because of abuse that I didn’t know was happening. Offer walls began to stop paying due to bot traffic. At the peak of this, I lost over 9k USD, despite my efforts. I tried implementing new bot protocols and building my relationships with advertisers but it was like climbing up a waterfall.

In all honesty, I don’t think I was prepared for taking a faucet into a business venture. I was unaware of the industry and the kind of people I was dealing with. If you want to do something like this please be aware, otherwise, you are going to get deceived. I learned a lot of lessons about business and how the real world operates and works. I would suggest that you also take heed of these lessons if you are doing anything in the realm of giving users money or anything of value. The age of computers and non-physical communication has made it all the easier for this type of bad behavior to take root and control. Think of all the scams that target people to steal their money. Now think that all those people have to do is run a server farm in a country that doesn’t care. While I realize that this may not be the vast majority of people or even a large minority it is enough to ruin your business model or venture, as it did mine.

Some pictures used in this post have been pulled from https://www.pexels.com/

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