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Internet Marketing And Flash Based Exploits

Oct 31, 2007
Online marketers who are often obsessed with raking in more traffic from social network sites resolve to using black-hat methods which redirects users to other profiles or sending them straight to an unsecure landing site, where they could be victims of viruses or Trojans. These Trojans can force the browser to redirect to the website being promoted. The threat is real. What are we going to do about it?

Looking for a friend online, you visit a popular social network site. The person's profile looks good, a bit too colorful. The profile looks just like any other you've visited on the social network. You scroll down to check his flash animations or videos, and then BOOM! You get redirected to a Viagra site, or worse, an online haven for viruses. Then you realize you've just fallen prey to a nifty Flash-based exploit.

Most online users think it is just a small annoyance, having their browser redirected after visiting an online social profile. But in fact, it poses a very serious risk. Some users get a taste of spamming ads, while others get a nasty bite from a Trojan or virus. Web marketers say this is a gray hat technique in online marketing that can drive lots of traffic. But its risky and might threaten your campaigns to improve search engine rank.

Now you might be wondering how scammers or black hat marketers pitch off a stunt like a flash redirection on online social communities. It's really very simple. Most social networking sites allow users to post flash videos on their profiles. With a little bit of Flash coding knowledge you can compile a very small (.swf) Flash video that will force the browser to redirect instantly or at a particular time. The redirection is not really that dangerous, but where you get redirected to can be a disaster. Think about marketers forcing ads or products on your screen without you having a choice or option to turn it off. And it can get pretty nasty, when a flash redirection bug sends you to a malware site, and forces your browser to download a nifty little code that will make your PC vulnerable to online attacks. This type of activity is mostly illegal, and users or marketers who employ them often get banned from the social site.

Flash video exploits can also cause web browsers to launch different windows which can be specifically targeted to a particular website. Web marketers often use this strategy to bring users to pages where they can reap dollars per click. It might improve search engine rank for sites that are catchy enough for online visitors. But users don't really get anything from the act, often just wasting their time doing surveys, which really don't give them anything at all and which may potentially exploit vital financial details from them later on.

One of the more common flash video or flash-based exploits over social network sites involves flash-based games. Users often love to tinker with games while browsing over a site. A flash-based game can monitor user clicks or mouse movements and at a certain time or event launch a browser which can redirect you to different websites. The method is certainly very enticing and many users fall prey to this type of exploit.

The marketing practice explained above should give marketers some background on prohibited marketing activities. Improving flash-based designs or providing flash-based applications that will give users a choice and not force them to go to websites or malware sites should help improve search engine rank. Many web marketers and SEO representatives have fallen prey to the quick traffic this exploit can provide them, but marketers also risk a lot when they get caught.
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