[ISN] 'Spam man' wins gold

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Fri Feb 17 03:15:41 EST 2006


By Stephen Hutcheon and Jacquelin Magnay
February 16, 2006

According to the International Olympic Committee's website,
Australia's gold medallist Dale Begg-Smith, runs an internet pop-up
advertising company that he describes as the third largest of its

But that's about as much detail as you'll get out of the
Lamborghini-driving Canadian-turned-Australian moguls skier who is
reluctant to talk about his dealings which remain shrouded in secrecy.

Speaking on Monday at a pre-race press conference, the 21-year-old
said he had wound down his multimillion-dollar internet business to
concentrate on his Olympic ambitions.

He refused to reveal the name of his business, nor details of its
operations or size. He did say it had "two or three" employees and
that it wasn't really an issue with skiing because it had been wound

"I haven't spent much time on it, I've let it taper off during the ski
season," Begg-Smith said when pressed about his work. "There's not
much to say. We design technology and stuff like that, some
advertising stuff, too."

But the companies that he and brother Jason Begg-Smith are involved
with are some of the most annoying aspects of the web.

Two main companies - called AdsCPM and CPM Media - make money by
skimming a small percentage each time an ad scores a hit or is
directed to a client's site.

Begg-Smith said the figures being bandied about his business - one
report had him earning $40 million - were untrue.

At his post-race press conference overnight, Begg-Smith became
irritated when more questions were asked about his business. According
to Canadian press reports he said: "I don't know why we're talking
about the company. I just won Olympic gold."

Begg-Smith reiterated that his business was set up to help fund his
skiing career and that he was now concentrating on his sport.

According to the Canadian Press news agency, Begg-Smith said "his
business had never dealt with any specific kind of advertising, only
the technology to track how often the ads were being seen. It was up
to his customers to decide what kind of ads they wanted to use, he

Web searches reveal that AdsCPM Network has been a supplier of
pop-under and -up advertising to websites.

Although they are a source of annoyance to web surfers, pop ads are
used by many mainstream websites and are perfectly above board.

But there is a dark side to the pop ad business.

Hidden programs that launch these ads are sometimes secreted - by
third parties - in many website with "honeypot" offerings, such as
pornography, free games, downloads and gambling.

Unsuspecting web surfers visiting these sites can unwittingly become
infected with so-called adware which spawns annoying advertisement and
which can be used to secretly track a user's web surfing habits.

Numerous computer security companies have warnings about AdsCPM and
CPM Media which are held responsible for the Xzoomy.com search engine
directory page and a site called FreeScratchandWin.com.

According to the Spyware Guide website, FreeScratchandWin.com opens
pop ads "every few minutes", hijacks users' home- and search-page
settings and can spy on users' web usage.

Another CPM website, 2nd-thought.com, initiates a so-called browser
hijacker program that resets the user's home page and often redirect
searches to porn sites.

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