Written by Richard Lowe

ethical: conforming to accepted professional standards of conduct -- Merriam-Webster OnLine: Collegiate Dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary.htm 2001. (17 August 2001).

I swear, internet marketing companies are getting more obnoxious and unethical every day. I guess it was just naive to thingrepparttar banner ad risen to it's highest heights of stupidity withrepparttar 132104 "punchrepparttar 132105 money" banner. And I don't know about you, but I didn't really believerepparttar 132106 marketers could get any lower onrepparttar 132107 scum scale thanrepparttar 132108 exit windows that run away fromrepparttar 132109 cursor so they are more difficult to close.

Well, I was wrong and I admit I was incredibly naive.

The marketers have come up with some incredibly unethical, horribly annoying gimmicks. The dirty tricks they are pulling now make exit windows look like child's play. In fact,repparttar 132110 games these boys are playing makesrepparttar 132111 marketing methods ofrepparttar 132112 scummiest adult web sites look downright professional in comparison.

The trend seems to have started a few years ago with a handy little utility called Gator. This "tool" professed to offer a great benefit to surfers -repparttar 132113 ability to rememberrepparttar 132114 contents of forms and password entry screens. Further, since Gator is actually pretty good at recognizing that a page contains a known form or password entry field, it is indeed very useful. I installedrepparttar 132115 program for a while and found it to be a wonderful complement to my surfing.

True, it did have this annoying habit of throwing a "coupon" up on my screen occasionally. I didn't think much about it at all - I just closedrepparttar 132116 coupon as quick as I could. This phenomenon didn't happen very often - in fact, at first I had difficulty figuring out what was actually causing it to occur. I naturally assumed this was a feature ofrepparttar 132117 web site that I was visiting.

However,repparttar 132118 coupons slowly became more and more common, and they began appearing atrepparttar 132119 worst possible times. They interfered with my shopping and surfing habits by breaking my train of concentration and thought.

I began to try and understand this strange phenomenon. I quickly realized this was a byproduct of Gator - and I soon understood thatrepparttar 132120 utility was simply "bait" to get people to install an insidious, almost evil, advertising machine on their systems. In fact,repparttar 132121 program is so obnoxious and so unethical that I truly believe no sane person would install it, no matter whatrepparttar 132122 benefit, if they completely understood what was going on.

Gator (and other similar, but less popular products) is something called a "Browser Helper Object". What this means is it is a small program which makes itself known to Internet Explorer, telling IE that to send information to Gator aboutrepparttar 132123 web pages that are being loaded intorepparttar 132124 browser. It'srepparttar 132125 job of a Browser Helper Object to extendrepparttar 132126 capabilities ofrepparttar 132127 browser in a useful way. Inrepparttar 132128 case of Gator,repparttar 132129 usefulness is to recognize forms and password entry fields so default values can be inserted.

In addition, Gator wants to know what kinds of advertisements are appearing onrepparttar 132130 pages that are being loaded. It also wants to see ifrepparttar 132131 page's subject is related to a product which one of it's paid advertisers is hawking. This is it's real purpose. The convenience is just a smoke screen.

Let's say you are surfing to your favorite shopping site and you want to order some flowers. You proceed torepparttar 132132 flower shop and suddenly a "coupon" magically appears in front of you, offering you flowers elsewhere, presumably better or at a lower cost.

Okay, let's put this in real world terms so you can understand what's really going on. Let's pretend you are atrepparttar 132133 mall, going from shop to shop. There is this guy (let's call him Benedict) standing behind you with a notebook and pen in his hand. He has a bag of flyers hanging from one shoulder and a money counting machine onrepparttar 132134 other.

As you go from store to store Benedict watches your every move (byrepparttar 132135 way, he has a radio and reports everything you do back to his home office where it is permanently recorded). You go into a clothing store and pick up a pair of jeans. Suddenly a flyer appears under your nose, informing you there are cheaper, better jeans in a shop downrepparttar 132136 road. You look Benedict and he smiles nicely at you. You pushrepparttar 132137 flyer out ofrepparttar 132138 way and keep shopping.

Now you go into a candy store and walk up torepparttar 132139 counter to order some chocolate. Again, a flyer appears in front of your face offering you chocolate at discount prices in a competing store. You pushrepparttar 132140 flyer out ofrepparttar 132141 way and pick out some chocolate that you want to purchase. Benedict pulls out his money counting machine, takes your wallet, countsrepparttar 132142 money, hands it torepparttar 132143 cashier, and returns your wallet. This, byrepparttar 132144 way, isrepparttar 132145 "benefit" that makes it useful to have Benedict around.

I'll bet it wouldn't take long before you either calledrepparttar 132146 cops or punched Benedict inrepparttar 132147 nose! And, of course,repparttar 132148 store operators would make sure Benedict was arrested and thrown in jail, and they would suerepparttar 132149 company for sure.

Well, guess what, it's gotten worse and more unethical, as hard as that is to believe.

According to reports, Gator is now working on a version which not only throws coupons in front of your face, it actually finds banners ads and covers them up with other advertisements so carefully and precisely that you would never knowrepparttar 132150 original ad was there.

Now Benedict runs ahead of you as you shop and replaces all ofrepparttar 132151 signs with advertisements for other stores. If you walked through our hypothetical mall and peaked under that ad for a movie, you might find there is actually an ad for an entirely different movie there. The billboard might actually be advertising something totally different. In fact,repparttar 132152 signs inrepparttar 132153 stores themselves could be replaced with signs directing you to other stores.

Security: Referrer

Written by Richard Lowe

If you are a webmaster, you will find that one ofrepparttar most valuable things you can use isrepparttar 132102 referrer. Onrepparttar 132103 other hand, if you are a surfer, you may want to disable this feature as it can be a security risk and a violation of your privacy.

What is this referrer thingie? Well, all web servers haverepparttar 132104 capability to create log files and virtually all web masters (at least those who know what they are doing) use these logs to determine how their web site is doing. The log files contain one line for each hit torepparttar 132105 web site. The format and contents ofrepparttar 132106 line vary from server to server (and webmasters can specify they want more or less information), but in general it has an incredible amount of information about that one hit.

Some ofrepparttar 132107 information gathered for each hit to a web site includes (among other things):

- The requested file (for example, index.html) - A status code indicating success or error (404 errors, for example) - The browser type being used byrepparttar 132108 surfer (this isrepparttar 132109 agent name, and it can also berepparttar 132110 name of a search engine spider or a spam harvester). - The screen resolution ofrepparttar 132111 surfer's monitor - The date and time (locally torepparttar 132112 server) ofrepparttar 132113 hit - The TCP/IP address ofrepparttar 132114 surfer (yes, every web page that you have ever looked at has your TCP/IP recorded in a web server log file somewhere). - The URL whererepparttar 132115 surfer came from

It's this last statistic that causes some concern. Oh, there is a minor issue in that your TCP/IP address is stored inrepparttar 132116 server logs when you access a page, but this is not very important. You see, these logs do not tend to last very long as they get very large extremely quickly. Many (if not most) web sites purge these as soon as statistics are gathered. Conceivably, of course, this could be of concern if an investigation were performed ... and these logs are looked at by webmasters for hacking attempts.

No,repparttar 132117 important information isrepparttar 132118 referrer field. Why? Well, first there isrepparttar 132119 privacy question. If a webmaster knew your TCP/IP address (and he would have to know your address specifically, since this isrepparttar 132120 only thing relating you torepparttar 132121 line inrepparttar 132122 log file - there is no name or email address stored there) he could get an idea of what you looked at before you came to his site. Thus, there is a remote chance that your privacy could be compromised ... a very remote chance since this is virtually never done by any webmaster.

The second, and very critical problem is a real security risk. You see, many websites allow you to log into their sites to personalize your experience. These sites allow you to enter personal data such as credit card information, social security numbers and other items into their database. Generally cookies are used to identify you as you move from page to page throughrepparttar 132123 web site. Cookies are by farrepparttar 132124 best and preferred way to do this - it's called maintaining context. However, cookies are frowned upon my many surfers for various reasons (mostly blown out of proportion fears created by a press that feels it needs dangers and bad news to stay competitive).

Cont'd on page 2 ==>
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