Short Stories - About The Sins of The Internet

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Short Stories - About The Sins of The Internet Powered By Docstoc
					                                                Presented by Daniel Toriola

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                                           Sins of The Internet: Mousetraps (and worse)
                                                              By Richard Lowe

    Sins of The Internet: Mousetraps (and worse) by Richard Lowe

One common unethical web technique is called mouse trapping, which
is often used in conjunction with another highly immoral practice
called page jacking. In it's simplest form, mouse trapping merely
consists of redefining the back function so that it does not return
to the previous page. Instead, some other function is performed.

A mousetrap is extremely simple to create. You've seen the simple
ones all over the place. You click on a link, say from a search
engine, and you go to a page. This only displays for a second, then
you are directed to another page. Now, if you hit the back key, you
go back to the redirect page, which effectively prevents you from
using the back key to get out.

The idea is to make it a little more difficult to leave the site.
Personally, I take offense at these kinds of tactics and will
virtually never return to sites which do this little trick. My
opinion is web sites should never, ever modify the browser
controls. Do what you want on the page - but don't mess with my
browser or my system.

Some sites raise the ante a little and pop up a window or send
you off to a third site. The idea here is always one of
deception - you think you are backing up out of the site, but
what you are really doing is something else. Honest sites with
valuable information do not need such tricks.

Very dishonest people carry these mousetraps to the extreme.
Here's what could happen to you - click an interesting link in a
search engine and you find yourself on a site which does not

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appeal to you (these are virtually always pornographic sites). So
you click the back key to get out.

Now the fun starts. The back key simply reloads the current page,
but also pops up a couple more windows as well as a pop-under
window. You start closing these annoying things, cursing under
your breath, only to find that clicking the close button actually
pops up yet another window. In these instances, the back button
has been redefined and a javascript has been set to be called when
the windows is closed. This javascript opens up yet another

Ah, this gets even more insidious when mouse trapping is combined
with page jacking. Here's the sequence of events. Let's say you
are one of these scum. You look around the web until you find a
nice, high traffic site. You steal the page and make a copy of it
on your own site. Keep the same basic page but change the links
and set up the mousetraps on the back key and when the page is
closed. Now, submit the page to the search engines, and within a
month or so you will be getting tons of traffic.

Why do these sites go through all of this trouble? It's a matter
of money. You see, these sites want you to click links, look at
banners and, best of all, buy something.

You'll notice that the popup windows all have banners. Someone is
paying to display those banners. They might pay if you click on
them or they might pay if they are simply displayed. In any event,
the banner has to get right in your face (and everyone else's for
that matter) to collect money. If it's a "pay per click" banner,
who knows, you might click on one or two accidentally as you
frantically attempt to close windows. Bam, the scum who created
the site makes a penny or two.

So the point is to get as much traffic to the site as fast as
possible, which is why the page from a proven high-traffic site
is stolen. It already works and no development is needed. Once the
traffic arrives, as many banners, links and other advertisements
must be shown as quickly as possible (but not so quickly as to
crash the system or prevent them from being viewed or clicked).
This gives your poor trapped visitors plenty of opportunity to see
banners, click on them or even possible buy something (you never

Ah, but wait, it can get even worse. Up until this point the site
has been playing with the browser, which has some reasonable
security (usually) and must follow a set of rules. But what if the
site tries to download an ActiveX control or an executable file?
Yes, the browser will ask you if it's okay (unless you've had a

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serious case of the stupids and turned off ALL security) and only
install or run it if you say yes.

But if you do say yes, then you've potentially added, willingly I
might add because the browser did ask for permission, a totally
unknown element to your system. There is absolutely no telling
what this could do. In fact, it might do anything at all.

This program does not usually destroy anything. No, what it wants
to do is dial up a phone number - a 900-type number. You know, one
of those phone lines which charges by the minute.

Now you are really in trouble and you will not even know it until
you get your phone bill. Something on your computer, something
over which you have no control, can do anything it wants,
including charging you money on your phone bill. And heaven help
you if you, in some moment of insanity, give this program your
credit card number or numbers. (And, of course, it could
theoretically scan your hard drive for such things).

So what do you do to protect yourself from mousetraps or worse?
Number one, set reasonable security. What I like to do is define
the internet as high security (this is done using the "security"
tab of "Internet Options"). This prevents javascript and other
dangers from running at all. When I find a site which I trust
which requires these features, I add it to the trusted sites list.
Thus, it's not possible (baring a browser bug) for a site to even
begin to cause me trouble.

If you don't want to go through those lengths, you can examine the
security tab and set things to "prompt" instead of "enable". Be
especially sure all ActiveX controls at least prompt (never, ever
allow ActiveX controls to install themselves without at least your

If you do go to a site which traps you, don't panic. Close
windows, trying not to click on any links or banners (why give
them any more money) as quickly as you can. Then make a mental not
to never, ever come back. You might also shoot an email off to the
webmaster and perhaps some of their advertisers protesting their
use of these tactics. This way you make your feelings known and
perhaps produce a change.

 Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secretsat - Visit
our website any time toread over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve yourinternet
profits, enjoyment and knowledge.

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                                          Sins of the Internet
                                           By Richard Lowe

Sins of the Internet by Richard Lowe

One of the most common misconceptions among new (and sometimes
advanced) internet users is that "if you can grab something it
must be free". Add to that a touch of naiveté and a hunger for
cash or fame, and you've got a formula for disaster ... or at
least for some sins.

This leads directly to one of the most common and most
self-destroying sins of them all - that of the Signup Junkie.
Just about everyone that I know went through this phase - it's
typical for most newbies. They sign up for everything. Why?
Because so many companies and organizations make promises which
seem to offer solutions, riches and help that it's hard to resist.
The end result is, at best, lots of useless spam and at worst
the loss of lots of money, time and effort.

Other sins are more subtle. For example, one day I was looking at
my site statistics when I noticed something very unusual. My
bandwidth usage was way too high. You see, my site had been doing
about 15gb a month, which is about 500 mb/day. Suddenly my daily
report showed my site was doing 2gb/day! At first I was thrilled -
my site must have gotten a great ranking in the search engines
or been profiled in one of the big magazines!

My joy was short lived, however, as I continued reviewing the
report. I soon realized that my site was not more popular -
someone had linked directly to one of my images. It was a very
high traffic site so every time this page was displayed it hit my
site - hammered it hard. If it kept up it became obvious that I
was going to get charged for bandwidth overcharges, and it would
not be a small bill.

You see, webmasters usually pay a fixed fee for their bandwidth
usage up to a certain amount. In my case, it was 27gb/month. Any
usage over that amount costs a small fortune, somewhere between
$6 and $20 per gigabyte over the ceiling.

I was glad that I looked at my statistics because I was able to
do something about it. I added a few lines to my htaccess file
and more or less removed the link. If I hadn't looked at the
reports, though, I may have had a bill of several hundred dollars.

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This is an example of one of the most common and most difficult
to understand sins of the internet. It's called bandwidth
stealing, and it's just theft, plain and simple.

One very popular sin is that of copyright infringement. You know
what I'm talking about - you've seen it all over the place. Those
great Star Trek or Star Wars sites with lots of photos and
scripts from the series? Guess what, they are infringing upon
other's copyrights.

Spamming is very popular, and a great way to lose friends, make
enemies and generally annoy people. It's not a wonderful way to
make any money, as all but the truly naive hate spam and delete
it immediately without reading. Spamming is a sin and has more or
less lost it's usefulness long ago.

A more obscure but still popular sin is that of spamming the
search engines. You see, search engines try really hard to
present useful information to their users. However, some poor
misguided souls want to manipulate the system to cause their own
sites to appear higher in the results list (and thus get more
hits). They do all kinds of strange things to fool the little
search robots, then curse when their sites are dropped forever.

If you really want to annoy your friends, you can send emails to
lots of different people using the carbon copy feature. This is a
common sin among newbies who don't know any better. What's the
problem? Well, including a list of email addresses exposes all of
those addresses to everyone receiving the message (and anyone it's
been forwarded to). This often results in quite a bit of spam, as
well as lots of useless messages being sent back and forth if
anyone replies to the message.

Then you find people who seem to think that banners and popups
are good ideas. Don't you just hate surfing to a site which
consists of dozens of mindless banners and two or more popups?
And worse yet, it's not like they are advertising something
useful. Most often, these silly advertisements want you to
purchase something that you don't need, don't want and wouldn't
give to your worst enemy on a bad day.

Oftentimes, all of these sins are the result of misunderstandings
as to the purpose and usefulness of the internet. I mean, you
would probably not be likely to purchase furniture from a banner
stapled to a telephone pole, so why would you buy one from a
banner on a web site or based upon a spam email? Most people
would not run power cables to their neighbors house to get their
electricity, so why would they steal bandwidth?

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How do you avoid all of these sins? By learning about the
internet; By understanding how to use it effectively to help
meet your goals; and by acting ethically and responsibly. What
does that mean? Think before doing, and don't do anything you
would not like others to do to you.

It's as simple as that.

Some other articles on internet sins that you may find of interest
are listed below.

Sins of the internet- Bandwidth Stealing

Sins of the internet- Banners

Sins of the internet- CopyrightInfringement

Sins of the internet- Not Using Bcc

Sins of the internet- Money Making Programs

Sins of the internet- Pop Ups

Sins of the internet- Signup Junkie

Sins of the internet- Spamming Search Engines

Sins of the internet- Webring Spammer

To see a list of article available for reprint, you can send an
email to:
or visit

 Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secretsat - Visit
our website any time toread over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve yourinternet
profits, enjoyment and knowledge.

How To Become A Global Internet
Making money with nothing but an Internet connection.
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                                                Presented by Daniel Toriola

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