Spiders Looking in Unusual

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2005-02-03 Print this article Print

Places"> The company works with eBay, which is an easy place for a small fry to unload merchandise. But its not as appealing to large operators because of the process involved. "They have to go through quite a process to keep changing handles," Cohen said. Cohen is proud of the extensive nature of where his spiders look, going well beyond the typical Web sites into newsgroups, RSS feeds and IRC chat rooms. But they also post public messages deliberately trying to attract spam, and their software analyzes that as well. "We can get ripe spam on almost any topic," Cohen said.
After the software makes its report, its up to human agents to evaluate the suspect sites and make a decision. If the site is considered worthy of investigation, the agents first check into the site—starting with a whois search and moving on to other databases—to make sure that its not "an authorized dealer posing under another name" and to "see where servers are really located," Loomis said.
If all looks dark, the lawyers are then called in. The next step is that simultaneous letters go to the site operator and to their ISP. Initially, they used to give the site operators the option of fixing matters before the ISP was alerted, but they were too often ignored, Loomis said. "If they get a letter from us, they dont do anything about it. When they get a letter from their ISP, they know that their only choice is to follow our request or lose their Web site." It sometimes takes threats to slow down fraud, as a group of Wal-Mart bar code replicators discovered when they were arrested. To find out more, click here. It works most of the time, he said, but not always. "Some are ignorant, and they lose their Web site anyway," he said. Net Enforcers also spends a lot of time trying to protect copyrights and trademarks. Its software, for example, also searches for unauthorized use of logos and stolen Web site pictures. Although it cant actually "see" the images, it looks for obvious file names, such as "jvc.gif" when looking for improper JVC images. The company experimented with watermark protections of logos, but found it far too inaccurate, Loomis said. Today, Net Enforcers limits its efforts to just U.S.-based sites. "Overseas is just a whole other world," he said. Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.

Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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