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Through its Overture pay per click search division, Yahoo has been found facilitating fraudulent click activity generated by known spyware makers including 180solutions, Intermix, and Direct Revenue. A study released earlier today, The Spyware – Click-Fraud Connection – and Yahoo’s Role Revisited, (Apr. 4, 06), shows how at least a dozen different spyware firms redirect Internet users searches through their servers, inserting Overture ad links on unrelated websites or with pop-ups triggered by those sites. Read more…

Many search industry observers see click fraud as the number one threat to the growth of the Internet economy. An even greater threat has emerged one that not only places the entire infrastructure of the Internet at risk, it also threatens non-Net users. Read more…

Click Fraud is the greatest threat to the rapid growth of the paid-search marketing sector. Speaking about click fraud to an investor conference in December, Google CFO George Reyes stated, “I think something has to be done about this really, really quickly, because I think, potentially, it threatens our business model.” Accounting for an estimated 5 – 15 percent of all PPC clicks (estimates differ by sector), click fraud is assumed to cost advertisers tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The problem has become so pervasive the April 7 edition of Wall Street Journal ran a front-page center column story titled, “In Click Fraud, Web Outfits Have A Costly Problem“. (subscription req.) Read more…

Daniel Brandt knows a lot about what Google knows about you. Having spent the past three years studying Google and the ways Google collects personal information, Brandt is the self-appointed “voice of reason” behind the Google-Watch website. In an email yesterday, Brandt expressed his continuing concerns about Google’s data collection and personal privacy. Brandt’s concerns have been exasperated by Google’s recent mission to digitalize the collections of as many libraries as possible. Read more…

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Thursday, August 12th, 2004

Yahoo Anti-Spy Toolbar

Yahoo has released a new version of its toolbar that targets, explains and eliminates spy-ware and ad-ware programs. Installed without user knowledge, spy-ware and ad-ware programs monitor your movement, your words and your communications. With spy-ware, information is fed back to the writer of the software. They sell that information to whomever wants to pay for it. You should know, that information is often personal, useful and identifiable. Important stuff like credit card numbers are NOT safe on your computer screen unless you are certain your computer is free of spyware. Ad-ware is slightly different in that it feeds advertising to your machine based on your surfing behaviors. A quick way to check for one form of ad-ware is to look in the upper left hand corner of your browser window. Do you see a small Netscape logo or an Internet Explorer logo, or do you see the logo for your local radio station? (this does not apply to MAC users or users of alternative browsers). Most ad-ware is more subtle than that though. If you don’t have another means of removing spyware and adware, try Yahoo’s new toolbar. Just a quick note though… Like the Google toolbar, the Yahoo toolbar feeds information back to its maker.

Cyberspace is a lot like the real world except in one major field, privacy. In the real world, people have privacy. In cyberspace you are a series of identifiable numbers often being watched from many directions at the same time. Your email, “private” chats, and the website’s you visit are all read and/or recorded in one way or another. Paradoxically, people operating in cyberspace tend to feel more anonymous than a person walking down a crowded public street. They are not, as is proven by the number of vigilante sites being established to bust suspected pedophiles, scammers and other social miscreants. Recently, a site known as Perverted Justice was established to lure and catch pedophiles in chat-rooms. What they do is pose as a minor and seduce older males into agreeing to meet. Once an arrangement is made and solidified, members of Perverted Justice set about finding as much information on the alleged pedophile as possible. They then use that information to harass the alleged pedophile in any way possible. Postering his neighborhood and calling his employer are two of many means of harassment.

Sometimes cited as being online heroes, the vigilantes often forget a central tenant of law in a free society, the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Another extremely important right that is a pillar of our justice systems is the right to face your accuser in court.

I hate pedophiles and would personally like to see them jailed and forced into counseling. My love of western democratic values however forces me to say that vigilante justice is often justice perverted.

Google is still down in many areas, one hour after we first noticed.  Oddly enough, some folks in our region (Pacific North West) can see Google while most can not.  We have also received reports from the Eastern Seaboard (USA) stating that some in Virginia can see Google while most others can’t.

The BBC website states that the cause of this outage is a varient on the My Doom virus.  We’ll continue monitoring and will post information as it comes in.

As of 10:15AM, Pacific Time, Google appears to be down.  We have tried visiting several of the International Google domains such as .CA, .CO.UK, and .DE but, when we try to run a search we get a page reading “Server Error”.  This has gone on for the past 20 minutes.

Six months after coming into effect, the US Can-SPAM act is being called a failure. Montreal based Email security firm Vircom says that of the 547,685 email messages it has examined since January 2004 when the law went into effect, only 71 or 0.013% of them conformed with the law. “It is apparent from these results that spammers are not worried about any potential legal action,” said Marc Chouinard, head of Vircom’s Spam Buster Team. “If a business relies on legislation to handle the spam problem, they are pretty much out of luck,” Vircom spam expert Michael Gaudette said in a statement. Read more…

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Thursday, June 10th, 2004

One Royal Pain in the ATM

“I swear to you, it must have been a computer error! The money is in my account.”…

How many times do you get to hear that old line in a year? If you are a landlord, collections agent, or bill collector, chances are you hear it nearly as often as a school teacher hears, “I swear the dog ate it…” Read more…