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  1. #1
    The Great Egress NewcastleB's Avatar
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    Spyware Article from MSNBC
    Here's a good article on the rise and (almost) fall of a spyware empire.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13757388/

    I especially like this part:
    Even Aurora's creators fell victim as the program froze computers at Direct Revenue. One sales staffer, Judit Major, documented receiving more than 30 pop-up ads in one day, according to e-mails. Her computer crashed four times.
    But are you still master of your domain?

  2. #2
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Wonderful article showing why so many AM's are just addicted to smoking the Adware/Spyware crack pipe furnished by the online Adwhore industry. Guess the percentage of ABWers who daily seek out PPCSE advertising, via BHO pop-ups, putting these thieving scumbags on easy street.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  3. #3
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    they say this about Direct Revenue...

    "Although it is small by some corporate standards, having generated sales of about $100 million since its start in 2002, its programs have burrowed into nearly 100 million computers and produced billions of pop-up ads"

    consumers hate pop-ups and the article touches on the inflammatory complaints DR receives from people with mucked up computers... and how DR jokes internally about the frustration people extol. Shameless.

    Want to know why so many people think Yahoo ppc (formerly Overture) has such bad returns in its "content" partners? Read on...

    "Spyware rakes in an estimated $2 billion a year in revenue, or about 11percent of all Internet ad business, says the research firm IT-Harvest. Direct Revenue's direct customers have included such giants as Delta Air Lines and Cingular Wireless. It has sold millions of dollars of advertising passed along by Yahoo."

    So they get paid $2B for messing up the country's computers and go unpunished and they laugh at people who complain...

    Remeber that the next time you get an offer for cheap ads and promises of thousands of visits... you'll be contributing to the mess. When it comes to advertising partners, be very careful who you pay and make sure you understand what you dollars at work cause and where / how they are displayed.

    Page 2 of the article talks about the origins of DR...
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Spam king
    Direct Revenue's origins trace the rise of what might politely be called one of the more freewheeling sectors of Internet commerce. The company's sales philosophy, according to current and former employees, was heavily shaped by Jesse Stein, a Wharton School-educated marketer whose successes before joining the company included selling VigRX, an herbal penile-enlargement supplement. VigRX may sound familiar because, to win customers, Stein inundated e-mail in-boxes with spam promoting the product. In 2003, when the ABC News 20/20 program identified what it said were the biggest online spammers, it featured VigRX and showed one of Stein's e-mails. He reveled in the notoriety. On his desk at Direct Revenue, Stein, now 36, kept a framed 20/20 screen shot of his VigRX spam, former colleagues say.

    His eventual boss, Joshua Abram, came to online hawking from a different angle. His family has a rich history of public service. Abram's late father, Morris, was a civil rights activist in the 1960s who later served as president of Brandeis University and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President George H.W. Bush. Joshua's sister, Ruth, heads the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York.

    In 1999 Joshua Abram helped start Dash.com, a benign precursor to later spyware operations. Dash attached an unobtrusive horizontal bar to the bottom of a computer user's Web browser. As the user moved around the Internet, Dash would note the sites being visited and offer relevant text ads inside the narrow bar. Dash went out of its way to ask users' permission to install the ad bar, and the company even shared its fees with consumers who made purchases. But Dash's tactful text ads drew relatively few clicks, and its fee-sharing became an administrative nightmare. As the Internet market imploded in 2001, Dash folded.

    Abram, known for wearing stylish suits amid a sea of techie grunge, kept developing ad software with several colleagues. They joined a broad post-bust move toward treating customers with less respect. One of the new spyware variants he helped create was called VX2, which a former colleague and computer security professionals believe was named after the deadly, undetectable VX nerve agent. In 2002, Abram, a father of two and husband of a fashion-industry executive, started Direct Revenue. His co-founders were fellow Dash alumnus Daniel Kaufman and a pair of data-mining entrepreneurs from a company called Pipe9, Alan Murray and Rodney Hook. The next year, Direct Revenue did business with and then acquired Stein's online ad agency, forming a spyware powerhouse. Stein declined to comment. The four founders didn't respond to numerous inquiries.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Nice guys...

    Next time somebody wonders how widespread this crap is and how much money it makes for the people who perpetrate it on all of us, remember this little insight into DR's coin as reported by MSNBC...
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    A company with access to 10 million computers can make about $100,000 a day. With its "install base" soaring to more than 20 million computers by late 2004, Direct Revenue's annual sales rose 450percent, to $39 million. Its four founders took home a combined $23 million, with Abram enjoying the biggest share: $8.1 million.
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    And when you hear them claim that people want this software on their computers, think abut this reported event happening in your own family's house...
    ~~~~~~~~~~
    Consumer outrage
    Complaints were certainly not in short supply. "You have 24 hours to provide me with a removal tool for your piece of crap spyware program," Joe LoMoglio e-mailed the company in September, 2004. "Your pop-up ads popped up a few porn sites while my 6- and 9-year-old children were using the computer." Reached by e-mail, LoMoglio says the company "refused to respond."
    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Remember when they said they were cleaning up their act... and certain people here like angel Kellie showed us the truth was a different story... during that time, DR's spyware (yes, I said spyware!) was found to have infected the computers of people who had invested money in DR's future... how ironic! Karma in action!
    ~~~~~~~~~
    Branko Krmpotic, the managing director of Technology Investment Capital Corp. (TICC), which had invested $6.7 million in Direct Revenue, also caught the Aurora bug and couldn't kill it, according to e-mails. Eventually, Direct Revenue had to send its customer support director to fix Krmpotic's machine.
    ~~~~~~~~~

    Easy to uninstall huh? I bet!

    Congrats to MSNBC for a fine article, although it's way overdue.

  4. #4
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    The original article comes from BusinessWeek, Ben Elgin reporting. The original is at http://www.businessweek.com/magazine...9/b3993001.htm . Be sure to review the sidebars, under heading "Related Items," which include some particularly notable details.

    For example, sidebar "A Software Hall of Mirrors" specifically discusses affiliate fraud: "The method, known within Direct Revenue as supertargeting, zeroes in on advertisers that pay the firm for each new customer delivered. Direct Revenue sometimes raises the customer count by having its software, which lurks in consumers' hard drives, watch for when users venture onto an advertiser's Web site. Once users are on the site, Direct Revenue feeds them pop-up ads for the advertiser. If that consumer eventually becomes a customer of the advertiser, Direct Revenue claims credit for referring the business, even though it didn't really send the customer to the site in question."

  5. #5
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Parasiteware Uncovered!

    Of course Ben and Kellie have been showing us this stuff for years!!!! I think that early work and noise it creates is the real driver behind this press surfacing today. It takes time, but I'm happy that B & K will keep exposing the cheaters!!!

  6. #6
    AM Navigator Geno Prussakov's Avatar
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    Great article. I hope similar ones will soon appear in papers around the US to communicate the issue plain and clear to as many Internet users around the country as possible.

    Geno

  7. #7
    Outsourced Program Manager e-Gazer's Avatar
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    Wow - I can't believe I only just saw this thread now. I'm through with being shocked over articles like this but I love that they continue to be published for all the people who are all still learning about the evils of spyware. Consumers know that ads popup on their computer unwanted but how many really understand the why and how? And beyond that, how many merchants, affiliates and AM's really understand? Our industry contines to grow and change every day...

    Knowledge is power. Thanks for sharing.

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