January 19th, 2007

Google desktop makes a whole lot of sense – it adds functionality to your desktop (looks a bit like the new vista theme actually) and makes a whole lot of things easier – one of the niftier things about it is the ‘sidebar’ – which is a great little retractable sidebar that pops out when you need it, and can include a menagerie of google and third party plugins – There is heaps and heaps available – It will blow your mind. If you haven’t seen it, do so soon.

Anyway – as much as I love it, there’s one thing you need to know – alot of unscrupulous people are using the ability to develop third party plug-ins for the google desktop sidebar as a way to persuade you to part with information you wouldn’t usually part with. The problem really arises from the fact that Google is pro-active about encouraging development that it lists third party plug-ins right alongside its own, and it’s not always blatantly obvious that you might be installing untested or dangerous code when you use some of them.

One of these that I have come across recently is called IPSCounter. IPSCounter is a little tool designed to give you live stats for each of your websites – hits etc. Quite handy. BUT be warned – there are a few hitches. I’ve got an exercise for you. I want you to go right away, right now to google and enter IPSCounter.

See the THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of pages called ‘IPSCounter Add-On for Google Sitebar‘? You know why they are there? Because IPSCounter is, in my opinion, a piece of malicious software. The code that comes with it is deliberately designed to HIJACK your page title with its own, and it also adds a little IPScounter box to each of your pages – see this example of a IPSCounter hijacked page (if it’s still up).

You can reverse the hijack with a bit of work on the source code, but it’s a pain in the backside, and the author of the software doesn’t make it very clear that his software may hijack your page.

It also leaves THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of dynamic url’s in your log file, which then confuse the living daylight out of google if you happen to use your page logs to generate and auto submit a sitemap to google webmaster tools.

So, I hear you ask, what’s the author got to gain from writing such a devious little piece of code? Simple. BACKLINKS. Each and everytime Joe Schmo like you or I goes and installs IPSCounter in its default format, it hijacks your page with a link back to the authors (commercial) homepage.

If you are reading this Mr IPSCounter man, increasing your PR by releasing free software and having backlinks in it is FINE, but WARN PEOPLE FIRST, or you’re going to get rampant bad feedback just like this.

Keyphrases – IPS Counter, IPSCounter Sucks



Entry Filed under: 2. SEO,General Discussion

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