Some chlorine is being poured in the pool?
eBay is dropping ValueClick's Commission Junction as the manager of the affiliate programs for eBay's auctions and Half.com sites. Monday's announcement came as the Federal Trade Commission announced ValueClick would pay a record $2.9m to settle charges it engaged deceptive advertising and failed to secure sensitive customer …
Good to see that, in at least one case, the root customer of one of these sleazeball 'click laundering' houses is dropping them.
Unfortunately it seems fairly rare for PPC 'networks' to have to pay for their tacit support of sleazy/illegal activity. Back in the days of the CoolWebSearch trojans (which were truly nasty bastards; they'd get you even if you were fully patched and often required reformats to kill) the CWS trojans would browser-hijack and change your homepage to one of those fake 'search engine' pages. In the case of CWS, the vast majority of these pages were jammed tight with PPC ads hosted by Overture (then a subsidiary of Yahoo, IIRC). I traced about 30 of the servers hosting the pages for hijacked machines; they were all hosted in the US and Canada. The ISPs told me there was nothing they could do since the servers weren't hosting malware THEMSELVES; Overture reps got testy and told me to piss off when I gave them the traceroutes pointing back to hijack sites.
The moral is that it's big companies that have bankrolled malware writers, and there's not enough pressure applied to match the money coming in. So, this is a good first step - even if it's not from the goodness of eBay's own heart, hopefully it signals a gradual change in attitudes.
As for the PPC/CWS click laundering, I put together a twenty-page document with traceroutes, quotes from company reps, and research from AV people directly linking the malware to the hijacked pages. A few online tech mags took a look, said, "Great stuff! We can't run it; we'd be in big trouble" and that was that.
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