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  1. #1
    Newbie ziffgone's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 22nd, 2005
    Possible Parasite Software Protection
    Hi all,

    Been reading around, and noted an excellent reference to StopZILLA somewhere here, stating StopZILLA was providing some form of protection against Parasite Software.

    This is all and good, if you can get everybody on the internet using it. But, not likely by a long shot.

    Another suggestion I've seen towards fighting Parasite software is to contact the companies they are affiliated with and either threaten to, or actually quit the program, if they don't disallow the said affiliated parasite from their program.

    There are two problems I see with this:

    1. If you contact the AM and threaten to quit the program, and they look and see the parasite bringing them $10,000 per month in sales, and you only bringing them $1000 per month, greed may have the better of them. I mean, really, if you were in their shoes, would you say, "Yeah, sure, I'll take a $10K cut in pay, just so you can bring me $1-2K" - Hmm, I think ethics become obscure in this situation.
    2. Would you be willing to give up $1000 per month in revenue just to "hopefully" sway the AM?

    However, the above would probably work if enough affiliates grouped together and did this.

    Anyway, not long ago I launched an affiliate link cloaker,, only to have a good many people ask if it protected against parasites. I knew what parasites were, and what they did, but didn't realize how big of an issue it was. No, covertLinks didn't protect against Parasite Software, only human link hijackers.

    But, I'm trying to fix that. See, I feel that until all parasites are expunged, or until every last internet surfer is surfing with software like StopZILLA, that the affiliate marketer still needs something to hopefully thwart these parasites efforts to overwrite your cookies and steal your hard earned commissions, and maybe NOT have to give up $1000 per month to make a statement. Giving you some sort of elevated protection until "Affiliate Heaven" may come.

    I mean, wouldn't it be nice if you knew you could promote programs without having to worry about losing your commissions to parasites? They'd still get there sales, but not at the expense of other affiliates.

    Like I said though, "I'm trying to fix that". Meaning, I need some help.

    I know about Parasite software, but I don't know exactly how they work, what determines their actuation? Is it the web site address? Content within the Web Site? What exactly is it that tells the parasite software to popup windows, or overwrite cookies?

    Anyway, I have created a Beta Version of a new affiliate link/page cloaker, and I would like some people to test it against some parasites. I'd do it myself, but I do not know which parasites are affiliated with which sites etc.

    However, there are some prerequisites:

    1. You would need to be willing to infect your PC with known parasites.
    2. You would have to know what sites they are affiliated with, and you'd also need to be affiliated with them. This can be through LinkShare, CJ, CB, or any other, as long as you know and can test against the parasites to see if your cookies are being protected.
    3. You need to report to me which parasites you are testing against before hand, and your results afterwards. Did the use of this software prevent their popups from actuating? Were your affiliate cookies set and stayed set upon arrival of the affiliated site? Etc.

    If you are interested in testing this software, please give me a holler at: admin [at] covertlinks [dot] com

    Heck, even if you aren't willing to help fully, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could point out a couple of Parasites to me, and which sites you know they are affiliated with. Then I'd be happy to test it myself. Your call...

    Perry Wolf.
    Last edited by ziffgone; April 23rd, 2005 at 01:29 AM. Reason: Spelling

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador
    Join Date
    January 17th, 2005

    A good starting point for you would be to look at eBates. They're one of the larger parasites and have a listing of all companies wioth whom they're affiliated. If they're on eBates you're sure they endorse parasites. Also look at Parasiteware on ABW. There's a list of all the known parasites.

    For good info on parasites and how they work, contact Ben Edelman and Mrs B on this board. They are the experts. Take a look at


  3. #3
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    The Swamp

    What activates a particular parasite depends on the parasite. Many different parasites out there and they are programmed differently. For some parasites, link cloaking can actually make aff links more likely for interference. Link cloaking can give protection against human hijackers and some ad blocking software.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    January 21st, 2005

    It's going to be very difficult to come up with a generic parasite defense program. They use a wide variety of techniques. Some simply look at html and make substitutions before the page is rendered. These can run as simple BHO's.

    Others may run processes that watch http headers. They don't have to change links on pages. They just intercept http requests and modify them before transmission. Or they pop up competitor ads, so no links are changed, just parasitic use of real estate. Some of them make entries in your hosts file.

    The really nasty parasites hide in all sorts of obscure files and registry keys. They attempt to disable anti-spyware programs, and they put pointers to their install programs in the startup group so they get re-installed at boot time.

    I wish you good luck. I've been working on defensive measures for a long time. I'll be interested to see what you develop.

  5. #5
    Devil's Reject Electropulse's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    how about having the script send an email to the AM every time it detects a parasite or when a link hijack occurs?

  6. #6
    Affiliate Marketer Rogi's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005
    If the software could do what Electropulse says, could and would that be considered as 'Proof of Commission Stealing' and enough evidence to start up a court case against the parasite?

  7. #7
    Newbie ziffgone's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 22nd, 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by Rogi
    If the software could do what Electropulse says, could and would that be considered as 'Proof of Commission Stealing' and enough evidence to start up a court case against the parasite?
    Hi Rogi & Electropulse,

    The only way to do this would be to be able to read the cookies from the affiliate programs, and as far as I'm aware, only the domain that set the cookie can check it. Plus, most affiliate cookies are encrypted, so even if you could check it, there'd be no way to tell if it was your cookie or another's.

    One other thing, even if you could check it, and also check the value to see if it's your cookie, there would be no way to tell if that cookie was reset to a different value via parasite or simply another affiliate marketer's legitimate efforts.

    Thanks Bob, Kellie and Ray for your input. I'll be doing more research.


  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador Andy's Avatar
    Join Date
    January 18th, 2005

    I think you have a great idea, and you'd sure be a hero if you found a way to stop all the parasites. Since they all seem to operate differently, as pointed out previously, whatever is developed to stop the parasites would have to be able to identify which parasite is interfering, and at times, more than one parasite is attempting to overwrite or pop up, so it is a real challenge.

    I would also suggest starting with Ebates, as they seem to be pretty widespread, and many of the networks seem to think they are operating ethically and within the TOS of the networks.

    Good luck to you!


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