<== Site of the Week for 2009-07-13 ==>
For better or worse, the developers of web browsers created hooks in their programs that allow software developers to add special features to the browsers.
The hooks are often referred to as browser helper objects (BHO).
It is likely that you are using a browser helper object. Popular BHOs include the Google Toolbar, the MSN Toolbar, the Yahoo Toolbar. Most new computers come with BHOs installed. The people who make the Browser Helper Objects often pay out big bucks to get their objects on machines.
Toolbars bring big money into big business. Placing the search engine toolbar on your browser pretty much insures that you will always go to that search engines for all of your searches.
Unfortunately, less than reputable groups have learned to take advantage of the hooks. Such companies make programs designed to take control of your browser. Often web sites will include tricks to get you to load their badware. Some coax people into installing maliciousware with altruistic claims about donating to schools or other charities.
Badware often does things like make unwanted popups appear on your computer. They also do subtle things like replace advertisers codes on existing ads.
For example. My sites run ads for Overstock.com. The URL for my overstock ads is http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-1126011-10664279. The code 1126011 tells Overstock's computer that i am the one who generated the click.
A browser helper object need simply replace my code with their code. Overstock will then credit any sales made from my advertisements to their account.
Most BHOs do not do evil things like this. Programs that do are generally referred to as ParasiteWare.
ParasiteWare effectively destroys the funding mechanism for small sites. I had all sorts of things I wanted to do with my sites. Being unable to develop a funding mechanism means the things I wanted to do will never happen.
Stop Badware is an effort led by the academic community and industry leaders to identify and stop marketers who are using destructive mechanisms to market their products.
There will always be debate about best and worst practices in programming. I believe that the public at large can help improve the quality of the internet by paying attention to what companies are doing on the Internet. People should patronize and support those that they think are doing good, and avoiding those engaged in questionable practices.