Fun with corporate search engine referrers

October 24th, 2010

What’s more amusing…

The visitor from Yahoo corporate on Mac OS X/Safari searching for a particular phrase on Google.com or the visitor from Google (Europe) corporate on Windows XP/IE 6 searching for “Yahoo Fantasy Football” on Google.com?

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Flipboard User Agent

August 15th, 2010

Yes, it seems as if the hot iPad social content app has a user agent that crawls the Web. Interestingly enough, the service is run on Amazon AWS according to the reverse IP lookup.

Host: 174.129.125.105
/2010/08/15/modern-email-marketing-two-odious-practices/
Http Code: 200 Date: Aug 15 12:27:35 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: -
Referer: -
Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.6; en-US; rv:1.9.2) Gecko/20100115 Firefox/3.6 (+http://flipboard.com/crawler)

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Modern Email Marketing: Two odious practices

August 15th, 2010

Being a Marketer who is focused on all things Internet related, I read a lot of email on a daily basis. I receive a lot of email, too. I can tell you quite honestly that I probably get more email than you in a day. I don’t really want more email that will take attention away from my primary concern, work. And having sent a lot of email (they don’t call it Email Deliverability for nothing) in a previous life, I’m pretty inured to Email Marketing practices - both good and meant with good intentions.

But I don’t know if it’s just me being the proverbial old grump with a full email inbox or what, but some Email Marketing practices of late have gotten pretty obnoxious.

Practice #1: Sending email to a catch all or general email address. We’ve heard the mantra from the opt-in evangelists about how you should not send email to a catch all address (i.e. sales@yourdomain.com or info@yourdomain.com or webmaster@yourdomain.com) because it weakens your deliverability - in terms of potential email bounces.

It isn’t just that though, as a marketer it shows you don’t know *jack* about the organization you’re marketing to. You’re basically proclaiming you’re too lazy to find out to find out who the decision makers really are in the organization. And that makes you a poor marketer.

Practice #2: Including a mailto: link to the recipients email address in the body of the email (mostly seen in the footer, near the unsubscribe link).

Whoa, wait, what? The first time I noticed this, I thought it was a newbie error on behalf of the sender. Now, I’m seeing the behavior from well known senders using well known Email Marketing services. So, I’m suspicious - because the thinking goes, if you add the recipient’s domain to the email, the email has less of a chance of being rejected by spam filtering software. Because of course you (the recipient) would not want to be using spam filtering software that would reject email with a link to your domain in it. Below is an example of the text:

This email was sent to: blog@cleverhack.com

You’ve received this message because you’ve registered to receive email or you’ve made a purchase from us.

If you no longer wish to receive email offers from us, unsubscribe here.

Sneaky, huh?

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Twitter Phish

July 11th, 2010

Well, I guess when you have enough Twitter followers, you start seeing the phishing scams.

It looks pretty close - design wise - to an official Twitter email. However, the thing was a) sent to an address that isn’t used for Twitter and b) sent from a hotmail address, which means these guys were just hoping for a few clicks before getting shut down. The hover over shows the address of the phishing site.

Twitter phishing scam

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End of an Era: Yahoo is killing MyBlogLog

December 23rd, 2009

Way back in late 2006, when the social Web was just starting and Twitter was but a mere messaging Web site, along MyBlogLog, which gave us the concept of a social Web profile and creating a community around your Web site.

The idea was a good one, and oh so exploitable by some unseemly social media marketers. And I think one of the better ideas to be popularized by MBL was the idea of the embeddable Web site widget featuring recent MBL visitors to your blog (see lower right hand side of cleverhack for the visitor widget).

Not that long after MBL arrived on the scene, they were acquired by Yahoo and their founders moved from New England to California. Unfortunately, Yahoo didn’t treat MBL all that well and never really improved the service or the MBL UI for that matter. The fact that MBL wasn’t really that integrated with Yahoo didn’t help matters much. And but three years later, we hear that Yahoo will kill MyBlogLog next month.

MyBlogLog - a great idea a little ahead of it’s time and never fully developed into a friendly usable product. I’ll be pouring out a 40 for one of the early pioneers of the social Web.

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Google Android User Agent

December 21st, 2009

Looks like someone with an Android handset visited cleverhack earlier today… Notice that Google has a special version of the search engine interface for Android (hint: click on the referrer). This seems to be the latest build of Android at 2.0.1, had no idea Google was using the AppleWebKit framework though. The screen size is also generous, too. Resolution : 854 x 480
Color Depth : 32 bits

Host: 75.209.219.99
*
/2007/12/10/hack-yahoo-fantasy-football/
Http Code: 200 Date: Dec 21 14:23:49 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 13396
Referer: http://www.google.com/m?gl=us&source=android-launcher-search&q=yahoo++fantasy+foot
Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.0.1; en-us; Droid Build/ESD56) AppleWebKit/530.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/530.17

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Hey, thanks for the identity theft, Verizon Wireless

September 21st, 2009

So, today, I get this email from Verizon Wireless about their privacy policies for their wireless customers. At first I thought the email was spam because I have not been a Verizon Wireless customer for OVER 2 years.

I imagine my shock when I see my old Vermont cell phone number on the email. A phone number I have not had for over 5 years.

The email has a different account number and a different name than mine. It looks like the job of a really bad email append. I hope. I checked the headers of the email, and it was sent from an internet marketing organization called Moxie Interactive, which looks legit.

From: verizonwireless@email.vzwshop.com
Subject: Important Privacy Notice
Date: September 21, 2009 11:26:59 AM EDT
To: [myemailaddress]@cleverhack.com
Reply-To: replyto@email.vzwshop.com

To ensure our emails reach your inbox, please add verizonwireless@email.vzwshop.com to your address book.
Having trouble viewing this email? View online. En Español.

Phones & Accessories Plans Features & Downloads Messaging Support My Verizon

Re: Account Number ending XXXX
Dear JXXX VXXXXXXX:

At Verizon Wireless, we value you as a customer, and we know how important privacy is to you.
As a company, we have a long-standing policy of guarding personal customer information.
This notice contains information about Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI).
Verizon Wireless needs your permission to share your CPNI within the Verizon family of companies,
which includes our affiliates, agents and parent companies (including Vodafone), as well as
their subsidiaries. This information allows us to better serve you by identifying, offering and
providing the most appropriate communications products and services to fit your needs. You have
the right to request that we not share such information, so please read this notice carefully.
Regardless of your decision, your CPNI will never be shared by Verizon Wireless with any unrelated
third parties.

As your wireless provider, Verizon Wireless may have certain information about you that is made
available to us solely by virtue of our relationship with you, such as details regarding the
telecommunications services you purchase, as well as the type, destination, technical configuration,
location and amount of use of such services. This information and the related billing details are known
as CPNI. The protection of your CPNI is important to us, and we acknowledge that you have a right,
and we have a duty under federal and state law, to protect the confidentiality of this information.
You have a right to request that your CPNI remain private, and may do so by clicking the Do Not Share
My CPNI button below. Unless you notify us within 45 days of receiving this notice that you do not want
your CPNI shared, we will assume that you give us the right to share your CPNI with the authorized companies described above.
Please be advised if you allow your CPNI to be shared, your consent will remain valid until we receive your notice withdrawing it, or for two years, whichever comes first. You may withdraw your consent at any time through My Verizon.
If you would like more information on CPNI and selecting Do Not Share, please review the
frequently asked questions.

Sincerely,
Verizon Wireless

CPNI will not be shared within unrelated third parties. You may advise us not to share your CPNI by clicking the Do Not Share My CPNI button within this email, or you can sign into your My Verizon account and register for Do Not Share from the “profiles” page.
Selecting not to share your CPNI will not affect the status of the services you currently have with us. In addition, we can disclose your CPNI to comply with any laws, court order or subpoena, or to provide services to you pursuant to your Customer Agreement.
© 2009 Verizon Wireless.

Verizon Wireless | One Verizon Way | Mail Code: 180WVB | Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
This email was sent to [myemailaddress]@cleverhack.com and associated with you Verizon Wireless mobile number
802249XXXX. We respect your privacy. Please review our privacy policy for more information
about click activity with Verizon Wireless and links included in this email.

You may easily adjust your subscription preferences from your profile information.

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Cuil referrer info (just because you like it)

July 28th, 2008

Because of the hoopla around cuil today, I thought I’d take a peek at this newest search engine’s referrers.

Cuil crawler info. I know I’ve been seeing this bot for the past year or so. Cuil’s crawler is apparently called twiceler (is that a pun?) and the user agent string uses cuill.com which 302 redirects to the cuil.com domain. As of this writing, the
cuil Webmaster info URL
has been updated from what is in the bot’s user agent string.

Host: 208.36.144.10

*

/

Http Code: 200 Date: Jul 28 15:02:12 Http Version: HTTP/1.0 Size in Bytes: 68965

Referer: -

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Twiceler-0.9 http://www.cuill.com/twiceler/robot.html)

As for cuil visitor referrer info, here you go…

[Visitor’s IP Address]

*

/

Http Code: 200 Date: Jul 28 17:31:24 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 17773

Referer: http://www.cuil.com/search?q=cleverhack

Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.4; en-US; rv:1.9.0.1) Gecko/2008070206 Firefox/3.0.1

If you happen to see a “&sl=long” appended after the referrer i.e. (http://www.cuil.com/search?q=cleverhack&sl=long), it indicates that the visitor was using the two column layout. If cuil ever gets significant marketshare, you can bet there will be SEO’s stressing about how their sites show in the two column vs. three column layout.

Otherwise, a cuil visitor presents in your visitor logs pretty much as any other visitor from the big search engines. The IP address belongs to the user (not a proxy like ask.com) and so does the user agent.

As for my thoughts about cuil, I am not impressed with the image thumbnails with the search results, as nearly all I have seen so far have been wildly inappropriate for the results. As for information volume, I haven’t done a statistical survey, but google still presents a volume of results as opposed to cuil.

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Rogue SEO spells out oh so not awesome

July 6th, 2008

So earlier today I was doing some catching up on Google Alerts for some domains that I manage.

And I kept on finding pages that look like the one below - same formatting, even.

When I first noticed these pages the middle of last week, I took them for a stupidly overzealous SEO who was planting link farms on sites he owns.

Now, I don’t think so - after examining a number of these rogue SEO pages, it looks like someone is taking advantage of an exploit in Apache to post directories full of these rogue SEO pages, to boost their page rank (while adding outside links on these rogue pages to, I guess, appear genuine).

All of the pages I’ve found are on machines running Apache in shared hosting settings with poorly maintained / designed parent sites. That sure as heck points to exploit.

Take for example the page I posted above. The full URL looks like http://destinationconcerts.com/tmp416/cnf336/neurology_49.htm.

Since, like I noted before, the site is poorly maintained which means you can go ahead and browse the parent directories. The main Web site seems to be a homepage (created in Microsoft FrontPage) for a concert promoter in Allentown, PA. The hosting provider is E-Commerce, Inc. And this was just one, out of a number of pages that I found hosted by E-Commerce, Inc. I also found other pages on sites hosted by The Planet and, irony abounding, The Institute for Intelligence Studies at Mercyhurst College.

So, just who is planting these pages and why?

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Don’t like Shyftr? Block the IP.

April 12th, 2008

This past weekend there’s been a conversation about Shyftr a new RSS service that allows people to read and comment on full text stories on the Shyftr site, rather making the reader click through to the originating blog to comment. The thought is that folks who care about pageviews for advertising will lose out in such a scenario.

So, in the spirit of helping the wider, feathers in a ruffle, blogging community out, I’ve pasted the Shyftr RSS bot info below. The good news is that you can block the Shyftr IP address from accessing your blog (if you already have that capability through your blog hosting solution, etc.). As of present, the IP address is 66.234.234.34.

Unlike other annoying bots, I would not block the user agent in your .htaccess file as the RSS bot software the Shyftr folks are using is the generic MagpieRSS toolset, which is used by other RSS services. Hopefully, the people at Shyftr will rename the user agent to something more uniquely identifiable in the future so you can block via .htaccess.

(Note: Blocking a future unique Shyftr user agent via robots.txt probably won’t work as the crawler would need to fetch the robots.txt file first before fetching your feed and I didn’t see that behavior tonight.)

Host: 66.234.234.34
*
/feed
Http Code: 200 Date: Apr 12 19:48:28 Http Version: HTTP/1.0 Size in Bytes: 6244
Referer: -
Agent: MagpieRSS/0.72 (+http://magpierss.sf.net)
*
/favicon.ico
Http Code: 200 Date: Apr 12 19:48:28 Http Version: HTTP/1.0 Size in Bytes: 1406
Referer: -
Agent: -

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Some real people feedback about bookmarklets…

January 20th, 2008

On the MSNBC developer blog, the question was posed How do you share?. Not in the grade school way, but in the newfangled Web 2.0 way.

Overall, the comments from MSNBC readers were pretty… negative. Aside from the “I’ll just paste the link I want to share in an email” or the “I’ll just add the page to my browser bookmarks” or the “they’re tracking your habits for nefarious purposes” comments, other commenters cited just one or two social bookmarking sites (the most popular seeming to be either del.icio.us or digg.com). And a few other commenters wondered, “Hey, MSNBC, don’t you own Newsvine?”

It appears that the zen habits of social bookmarking hasn’t been widely accepted by the at large Internet populace.

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Apple TV

January 18th, 2008

For those of you with Apple TV, do you like it?

I’m thinking of springing for it, seeing as the idea of downloading movies and watching them on my (nearly outdated last of the mohicans CRT TV) does appeal to me. I don’t watch broadcast TV, I don’t have on-demand anything nor do I Netflix.

On the other hand, the iMac is in the family room too and I could, I suppose, hook that up to the TV negating the need for another product from Apple.

Thoughts?

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