mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

HiJack This!

Like most of my posts, this is a bit out of date, but something I thought was worth posting. As everyone knows, Cheney said instead of in Tuesday's veep debate. wound up sending people to billionair Bush-basher George Soros' site.

It turns out that's owners decided to redirect the traffic to Soros' site after the slipup. And when you read articles this one, you get the impression that the switch was made by a poor website operator deluged with unintentional traffic after Cheney screwed up.

In reality, it looks like's owners wanted to trade on people's screwups - they just never bargained on Cheney sending a bunch of traffic their way. It looks to me like is a cybersquatter - a site owned by someone who takes a name that is easily misspelled or typed with the wrong suffix in the hopes of getting visitors to click on their ads - or worse. See, many of those cybersquatter sites also do things like install spyware or adware on your computer that delivers popup ads, tracks your internet activity, routes clicks on sites through their commission programs, changes your homepage, and a host of other fun stuff. They want people to click on their site, because that's how they make money, and they choose names that people will mistype or get wrong.

Now, I don't know this for sure, but the Newsweek article describes the site as a, a for-profit advertising site based in the Cayman Islands.. And we all know legitimate internet companies love the Cayman Islands for it's, umm, robust network infrastructure, and not it's banking and other privacy laws. Plus, it's interesting to note that was registered in September of 2003 while was registered February 2004 - so it seems reasonable that their registration was influenced by the existance of the legit and popular site, in the hopes of catching people who mistyped it.

It's interesting that in addition to taking a load off their servers, the cybersquatters also say that they did it to make a political point. The political point seems to be that Kerry is the president of choice for cybersquatters and adware pushers. Now there's a ringing endorsement!

EDIT: I noticed a lot of people have come to this post looking for the spyware removal tool HiJack this - you can find it here


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