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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Don't Get Caught by the Yahoo .CM Scam

Yahoo has traditionally taken a backseat to Google when it comes to advertising innovation, but back in August, it managed to secure a major coup by signing a deal with a domain name speculator called Kevin Ham to provide advertising on typo sites. Typo sites are sites that you go to when you misspell URLs like typing in Goggol.com instead of Google.com.

Not just any typo sites, however. In a brilliantly devious move, Ham managed to convince the Cameroon government, which controls domains ending in .CM, to let him redirect typo traffic that ends in .cm to a site of his own choosing. The site is called Agoga and contains ads served up by Yahoo. Since typing in .cm instead of .com is a common occurrence, this means mountains of revenues for Yahoo. Check out the sidebar for a more detailed explanation of the scheme.

If you use Internet Explorer, this may not be a problem since Microsoft redirects traffic to non-existent sites to its own webpages. Similarly, users with the Google toolbar installed are protected from the .CM scam.

You can also protect yourself by using OpenDNS. Your browser takes you to a website by asking a DNS (domain name system) server what sequence of numbers corresponds to the URL you typed in.

OpenDNS replaces your ISP's DNS server and automatically corrects bad addresses. For instance, if you typed in Apple.cm, it would auto-correct it to Apple.com for you.

Setup is easy with the many colorful, step-by-step tutorials that are available. Essentially, what you need to do is change your DNS settings to the following:
Preferred DNS server address for Open DNS is:

208.67.222.222

Alternate DNS server address for Open DNS is:

208.67.220.220

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