Microsoft Exposes Google AdSense Scheme

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Mistyping a URL in the address bar of a browser can lead to a ring of traffic-stealing “typo-squatters” that ripoff the AdSense for domains system at the expense of Google and its advertisers.

Sometimes a misspelled domain can be harmful; googkle.com led visitors to a malware site that would upload various Trojans and downloaders to a PC just by going there.

In the case of Google’s AdSense for domains, intentional misspellings led to domains held by a Panamanian company called Unasi Inc., apparently for the purpose of gaining AdSense revenue, eWeek’s Ryan Naraine reported.

It was Microsoft Research that uncovered the scam, the report said:

With the new Strider Typo-Patrol System, the Microsoft Research Systems Management Research Group was able to track down a ring of typo-squatters registering misspelled domain names and generating traffic to serve advertising from Google.

The report listed Amazon, Expedia, and Mapquest among the brands victimized by the scheme. Google’s domain parking server Oingo.com hosted nearly all the misspelled URLs.

Security researcher Ben Edelman told eWeek of problems with Google’s domain parking:

“It’s not uncommon to see domains like bankofdamerica.com, which ultimately get all of their revenue from Google, yet which are clearly prohibited under settled trademark law,” Edelman said.

“That doesn’t seem to bother Google, though; Google takes the odd position that they’re not responsible for where their ads end up, even when they’re paying domain registrants to show the ads there.”

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Microsoft Exposes Google AdSense Scheme
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