That is the situation Microsoft took advantage of when it disclosed this week that its HoneyMonkey exploit detection technology showed how a typo-squatters ring was using misspelled domain names to steal traffic from major Internet brands including Amazon.com, Expedia.com (a Microsoft property) and MapQuest.com.
Its one of those supremely dirty, but certainly not little, secrets of the Internet that typo-squatters are using misspelled domain names to generate revenue by redirecting Web surfers to porn portals and other bogus sites stocked with Google AdSense adds.
The squatters receive revenue every time surfers click on those ads at these sites. But it is doubtful whether legitimate advertisers are getting any benefit from these ad clicks in terms of higher sales of products or services.
But as serious as this problem is for Web users and advertisers, Microsofts apparent motives for releasing the study results are hardly altruistic or for the good of the industry. They did it for the good of Microsoft.
It was no coincidence the Redmondians released the results of its HoneyMonkey study literally on the eve of the announcement that Time Warner Inc.s American Online division will continue using Googles advertising technology for another five years.
Microsoft was competing head to head with Google for this deal, which also gave Google the right to acquire a 5 percent share of AOL for $1 billion.
It looks like a desperate last-minute attempt to derail the deal by calling into question the integrity of Googles AdSense system.
It can hardly be a coincidence that Microsoft released the results of its HoneyMonkey study the day before Google was set to announce it had won the AOL deal.
Googles success in winning this deal has raised questions among industry analysts about whether Google has supplanted Microsoft as the premier technology innovator and deal maker in the computer business.
Certainly Microsoft hasnt lost many deals of this magnitude since it managed to whipsaw control of the PC operating system market from the hands of IBM.
Microsofts timely HoneyMonkey exposé highlights the spiking intensity of the competition between these two very ambitious companies.
Just how intense its become can be seen from an incident, widely reported on the Web, about Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer throwing a chair across his office and vowing to kill Google after learning that Google had hired away another high-level Microsoft employee.
It doesnt sit well with Microsoft that Google has become so dominant in search and is competing so vigorously to win a generous share of the e-mail, local search, instant messaging and online advertising markets.
Microsoft has grown used to dominating in any market it chooses to enter.