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Old 06-15-2004   #1
rustybrick
 
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AdWare Manipulating Google Results

One of my SEO buddies, Ben Pfeiffer (Phoenix), found that AdWare is now able to manipulate the actual Google results. So if you do a search on a desired keyword phrase, the results will be changed to server up AdWare. He released this information at the Search Engine Roundtable (a little self promotion), but there is a screen shot there with more detail. Please comment here. Can you imagine, searching on "dog food" and finding results for "trips to Sweden"?
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Old 06-15-2004   #2
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Im relatively sure they've been doing that for quite a while now, I remember reading somthing about it about a year ago over at wmw...?

Just so we're clear: They dont actually manipulate the G results, just what your browser shows you on the page. Small point, but a significant one I think...

Personally, I think they should start 'getting' these folks, Im all up for ppl making a buck but messin with my search results? I dont think so.. thanks god I use linux ;-)

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Old 06-15-2004   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick W
Im relatively sure they've been doing that for quite a while now, I remember reading somthing about it about a year ago over at wmw...?
I did not now know, I would be interested in finding those threads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick W
Just so we're clear: They dont actually manipulate the G results, just what your browser shows you on the page. Small point, but a significant one I think...
Good clarification. I did not mean they go into Google and scramble things around. But now that I look back at what I wrote, I can see how some might take it to mean that. Thanks again for that clarification.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick W
Personally, I think they should start 'getting' these folks, Im all up for ppl making a buck but messin with my search results? I dont think so.. thanks god I use linux ;-)
Yup, I am all for that. But I guess its the price to pay to be on a Windows box. I am like you, I am on Unix, Mac OS X.
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Old 06-15-2004   #4
doppelganger
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Adware

It's pretty interesting. My first reaction is that these practices are deceptive to the user, and rob the publisher of revenues. In fact, many companies have taken these cases to court. The most prominent one I can remember is UPS and a bunch of other companies taking Gator (Claria) to court.

However, the other side of this equation is that these adware programs can actually perform pretty well for advertisers... It's the same reason that spam can still be profitable... people are clicking.
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Old 06-16-2004   #5
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removal of the beast

rusty, you mentioned in your article that the offending program returns after you remove it. you also mentioned that Spy Sweeper is supposedly the only one that will remove the adware the first time.

the question i have is this: do the other programs in your list remove the adware, or is spy sweeper the only one that kills the thing?
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Old 06-16-2004   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wpn noob
rusty, you mentioned in your article that the offending program returns after you remove it. you also mentioned that Spy Sweeper is supposedly the only one that will remove the adware the first time.

the question i have is this: do the other programs in your list remove the adware, or is spy sweeper the only one that kills the thing?
Actually Ben (aka Phoenix), one of the authors at the Roundtable, wrote the article. I will make sure to tell him to respond to your question here.
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Old 06-16-2004   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
Actually Ben (aka Phoenix), one of the authors at the Roundtable, wrote the article. I will make sure to tell him to respond to your question here.
thanks much. i am actually researching this for a webpronews art. your guy's help is tremendously appreciated.

go pistons.
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Old 06-16-2004   #8
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Thanks Rusty!

Hey WPN,
I wrote the article about the adware in google showing up. I recently found the same junk on another friends computer. Regarding your questions, I found that when (my friend) ran Spybot and Ad-aware both, they were not able to completely remove the infestation. It would technically delete the files but they would return following the next start up. Now the reason for this I think was that these above spyware removal programs don't remove ALL of the files causing the problem. Like, Nick said, this form of adware does not alter the results, it just performs a trick with the browser. It alters the display and what you see with these ads formatted for the Google search page. However they are not soo smart as to match exactly with the current search page. If you do a search for "boat scotland" in Google right now you will find "News" result taking up the top position before the regular listings. Refer to the screenshot on SERoundTable.com.

It appears to mess with the browser helper object of IE 6.0. A program called HijackThis ( http://tomcoyote.com/hjt/ ) is supposed to be the best for cleaning up these objects that get stuck in your browsers (even recommended by those that write the malicious programs themselves). So, if you have something that alters the display of a page illegally, you should track it down and rid it of your system. Otherwise you will have blinders on while surfing the internet if you don't. Additionally, Spy Sweeper as a friend told me, effectively cleaned the parasite in one cleaning. The problem did not return at a later time. It seems that to really clean out our systems these days people need to be equip with more than one spyware removal program. Not all are updated, not all catch everything, and not all are so powerful to clean up everything just once.


Last edited by Phoenix : 06-16-2004 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 06-16-2004   #9
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thanks much

thanks for the help phoenix. that clarified things a great deal.
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Old 06-16-2004   #10
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no problem noob,

Look forward to the WPN article on the subject.

Ben
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Old 06-17-2004   #11
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FYI, a possible reason why this spyware returns after you remove it is the that the program was smart enough to copy itself to the \system32\dllcache folder, or some other system directory. When an important windows file gets removed by accident, windows can restore it from this folder. Perhaps your spyware has this ability as well? To monitor and repair itself from another location?

Just speculation, but if there are apps out there like this now - self repairing spyware - that's scary.
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Old 06-17-2004   #12
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thanks

guys, i just want to issue a blanket thank you to your help on this article and all the previous ones. you guys rule.

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Old 06-17-2004   #13
5starAffiliatePrograms
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Hi All,

My 1st post here. Glad I discovered this forum. I mod the Affiliate Marketing and "Domain Game" forums over at WebProWorld as well as several others. Most of you know me as Catalyst.

WebProNews just published an article about this today too. It's the top story on today's front page.

http://www.webpronews.com

Or if you look for it tomorrow here is the direct link:
http://www.webpronews.com/insiderrep...Results.h tml

I was going to start a new post - glad I noticed this one.

Linda AKA Catalyst

Last edited by 5starAffiliatePrograms : 06-17-2004 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 06-20-2004   #14
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There are a couple dozen threads talking about this at both SEF and WW. This is the oldest one I can find at present. (there is one from 2001 somewhere too...)

http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum80/128.htm
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