'Spam' Canned: Microsoft Fighting Unwanted Ads in Search Results

Dennis Faas's picture

In a bid to win back the hearts of tech junkies dismayed by European antitrust fines and deceptive anti-piracy programs (Windows Genuine Advantage), Microsoft is defending the average surfer by waging a new war against "spam".

As spam -- the advertising granddaddy of Spyware most typically found in emails -- spreads to bulletin boards, Microsoft is integrating a program that roots out such false and annoying offers.

As mentioned, spam has traditionally been associated with email. Culturally linked to the Monty Python viking sketch, "spam" was first used to describe annoying online messages when those posting on Bulletin Board Services (BBS) would repeat a term indefinitely in order to push other communications off the page.

Today, spam costs Internet Service Providers (ISP) and private companies millions of dollars in fraud and lost productivity expenses. Frustration with spam is so great that legislation has been passed to forcefully reduce its spread. (Source: wikipedia.org)

Strider Search Defender

Despite such attempts, spam is growing. It is now moving beyond email, to web-based bulletin boards and blogs. Enter Microsoft, who have developed a tool called Strider Search Defender (SSD).

SSD begins with an automated search for URL redirection, the most typical process used in online spamming. Once this is found in a search engine (in this case, obviously Microsoft's MSN Search), spam advertisers will be dumped from the results. (Source: arstechnica.com)

"Cloaking" is another method employed by spammers. This technique essentially presents different information to the search engine than what is actually presented on the page, meaning that a search for garden tools could end in porn. Microsoft's Strider Search Defender loads the most questionable URLs, and also keeps a whitelist of known appropriate advertisers in order to combat cloaking.

SSD is already having an impact on MSN Search. According to sources and Microsoft diagrams microsoft.com), the Strider Search Defender is effective and spam results are down. All that remains now is for the world's most popular search engine, Google, to develop its own anti-spam program and reassert itself over Microsoft.

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