Friday, December 24, 2010

Space.com Blocked: Disappointing, but Not Unexpected

The Lemming would be writing a micro-review about a Space.com article now. It has to do with a moon of Saturn.

That micro-review won't get written. Not soon, anyway.

A few minutes ago, when I followed a link on one of my 'iGoogle' pages, I got a message titled "Google Safe Browsing diagnostic page for space.com/scienceastronomy." It gives a few details on what why Space.com/scienceastronomy got flagged.

I'll be back, with a reason I'm not surprised at this situation, after that "Google Safe Browsing diagnostic page" text:

"Safe Browsing

"Diagnostic page for space.com/scienceastronomy
"What is the current listing status for space.com/scienceastronomy?
"Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer.

"Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 1 time(s) over the past 90 days.
"What happened when Google visited this site?
"Of the 81 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 10 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2010-12-24, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2010-12-24.

"Malicious software includes 12 scripting exploit(s), 10 trojan(s), 8 exploit(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 3 new process(es) on the target machine.

"Malicious software is hosted on 2 domain(s), including oooabterast0.co.cc/, wet2.cz.cc/.

"This site was hosted on 1 network(s) including AS6315 (XMISSION).
"Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
"Over the past 90 days, space.com/scienceastronomy did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites.
"Has this site hosted malware?
"No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days.
"How did this happen?
"In some cases, third parties can add malicious code to legitimate sites, which would cause us to show the warning message.
"Next steps:...."
("Advisory provided by Google," Google (safebrowsing.clients.google.com) (December 24, 2010)

The "Next steps" would be relevant, if you were on the original page, or the site owner.

The Lemming hopes that the owners of Space.com take note of what's been happening, and change their policies. That leads me into why I wasn't surprised to read that Google diagnostics message.

Space.com Using Malicious Software? Disappointed, but Not Surprised

For some time now, Space.com has been using -- or allowing their advertisers to use -- increasingly aggressive software.
Advertising's Okay
The Lemming doesn't mind advertising: the working relationship between bloggers like me and companies with products and services to sell is one reason why blogging - and online publishing in general - isn't limited to independently wealthy folks.
Self-Destructive Stupidity is Not Okay
The Lemming does, however, mind advertising that blocks a reader's view of the page, takes up screen space toward the bottom of the display, and otherwise interferes with reading the page.

Advertising like that is, in the Lemming's opinion, as stupid-clever as the old trick of disabling the browser's "back" button. I've discussed disabling back buttons before. (December 6, 2010, May 1, 2008)

Back to Space.com, aggressive software, and that blocking message.

Space.com: Second Strike

The Lemming won't be going back to Space.com again today. Or, most likely, until after New Year's.

That's not an arbitrary date, by the way. Syntax and content in Space.com strongly suggests that their writers and editors, at least, are in the United States. That, in turn, suggests that the folks who make executive decisions are in this country, too.
Holiday Break SNAFU?
If Space.com's executives are in the United States, the odds are pretty good that they won't be back from their Christmas-New Year's vacation until early January, 2011. The same goes for most of the senior staff.

Including the folks who are savvy enough to know that it's not a good idea to sell advertising space to someone who started the conversation by telling you that he was the president of Booga-Booga and needed your help to get ten billion dollars out of his country. Which is another topic.
Beware Clueless Executives
Almost. I briefly discussed clueless executives and managers, illustrated with a Dilbert strip, yesterday. (December 23, 2010)
Second Strike
The Lemming wouldn't be quite so annoyed, if this was the first time Space.com had pulled something like this. This is the second time I've had issues with the website and naughty software - presumably put there by their advertisers.

The Lemming hopes that whoever is running Space.com decides to reconsider what seems to a piratical philosophy, where it comes to advertising. They may be making a few extra dollars this way, in the short run.

But as word gets around that they're putting malicious software on their visitors' computers: I don't think I'm the only one who's considering staying away from Space.com. Permanently.

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Word missing, I think: "Including the folks who be savvy"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Arrr! That be a serious matter of syntax! 'Tis changed: and looking the better for it.

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