Thursday, August 23, 2007

Proxy Phishing Warning - Avoid Proxies!

Here's another reason to avoid proxy servers as McAfee SiteAdvisor has been popping up warnings about potential phishing via these seemingly "harmless" proxy sites.

Maybe phishing is one of the real reasons behind the sudden proliferation of new proxy sites and not just so kids and workers can bypass internet security.

Maybe the real purpose of many of the sites popping up every few minutes is to lure unsuspecting victims into using their passwords and other personal information and collecting them for nefarious purposes.

It's also another possible reason that the proxy hacking/hijacking is being done as a means to purposely direct people to sites they may be members of, by hijacking the page in Google as a means to get you to login via their servers.

Some of the newer proxy sites I've seen attempting to hijack some of my pages lately have a very low profile, such as "" and don't even frame the page to give you any indication that you're even using a proxy other than the URL.

Everything is starting to add up to a very serious threat for novice internet users that can't tell they're even being spoofed.

I didn't like proxy sites before and now I think they should just be abolished because the risks are too high for site owners and visitors alike.

When it comes to proxy sites just play it safe and avoid them at all cost.

State of Spider Verification One Year Later

A year ago at SES in San Jose we made a big fuss about not being able to validate if the spiders were truly coming from the search engines or being spoofed.

At the time some people were maintaining lists of known valid spider IP addresses while others used to authorize entire ranges of IPs for various datacenters just in case they used new IPs which frequently happened.

Finally the big 4 search engines have all gotten on board implementing round trip DNS checking for spider verification with Google leading the pack back in September '06 right on the heels of SES San Jose.

Here's the implementation timeline:

08/06/06 - How to verify Googlebot on Google's Webmaster Central Blog

11/29/06 - Ask has round trip DNS support as well. Not sure of the exact date but it appears Ask beat out Microsoft based on a post on Matt Cutts Blog. I remember them mentioning this at one of the conferences last year, definitely PubCon at a minimum. If someone from Ask wants to give us an official date that would be nice.

11/29/06 - Search robots in disguise on Live Search team's blog. I remember when I asked the search engine panel at PubCon when they were going to follow Google's lead on this issue the Live Search guy's hand shot right up and said they already had it done.

Look at how quick and responsive 3 search engines were to webmaster complaints about spoofing issues.

...and barely getting it done before SES San Jose '07

06/05/07 - Yahoo! Search Crawler, Slurp, has a new Address and Signature Card on the Yahoo! Search Blog.

Better late then never and it would probably have been a big embarrassment had another year passed without keeping up with the competition.

Other spiders that appear to have implemented round trip DNS validation, to name a few off the top of my head, include Exabot, Furlbot, Twiceler, VoilaBot, even a few aggregators like BecomeBot and and a whole lot more so it's catching on.

Then you have stragglers like Gigabot that don't even bother setting any reverse DNS whatsoever and you have to do a whois on the IP address just to see if the IP block is assigned to their company or not. Come on people, get with the the program!

Obviously we still have a few search engines that need to catch up but at least all the major players can now be verified and a simple PHP script using round trip DNS verification can stop proxy hijackers and scrapers that spoof the search engines.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Google Dance 7 Kicked Butt

Did my annual pilgrimage to the Google Dance event last night that's associated with SES San Jose and had a pretty good time.

The Google Dance never fails to impress me as Google knows how to throw one hell of a party with enough food and drink to feed a small army (which it was, huge crowd) and some DJ's rocking the house.

Just to become a typical name dropping whore, in no particular order, I'll tell you I ran into Brett Tabke, Danny Sullivan, Matt Cutts, John Andrews, Jon Glick (, Bob, Phil, Evan (Google Webspam guy, works with Matt), and a bunch of other people I can't remember off the top of my head. Earlier in the day in the SES exhibit hall had a nice chat with Brian Prince of BOTW and Lawrence Coburn of RateitAll and I spotted ShoeMoney hanging out at the WebmasterRadio booth but didn't get a chance to say "Hi!" even. Martinibuster was supposedly running around the Google Dance but we didn't spot him.

Everyone was talking about the highs and lows of the last Google update as many people got by unscathed. Some, like myself, are experiencing phenomenal traffic improvements but everyone had a story of someone they knew that took a swan dive and is now in the bottom of the Google barrel.

The hot topic of the day which was quite the buzz at the Google Dance was an SES session about paid links where some described it at a near revolt (riot) of the masses against Matt Cutt's stating the Google company line about paid links. Play the video on SER, pretty funny.

I hate to be a complainer because it was a great party but I have a couple of minor gripes that maybe Google can address next year:

  1. Put some trash cans near the food and beverage stations. We had to walk all over the place trying to find trash cans, which is no fun with a busted up toe, just so we could be good guests and not litter the place.
  2. SUPPLY SOME TOOTHPICKS! Maybe you had them, but I sure couldn't find them, and spent half the night trying to get a stuck kernel of corn out from between my teeth.
Other than those 2 nit picky things, well done again this year Google!