YouTube Spamming

It seems that YouTube left a window open and the spam came flooding in. Here’s the news story:

YouTube Service Hijacked By Spammers

Security company Sophos warned users last week that spammers are exploiting the highly popular video Web site YouTube in an attempt to promote their own goods and online stores. The cyber criminals are dropping their spam messages in the ‘comments’ section of the ‘invite-a-friend’ service on YouTube, enabling them to send out spam that flies under the normal anti-spam radar.

My first reaction was, “This is new?”. I’ve seen comment spam on YouTube pretty much ever since I started viewing videos there. I guess there is a twist in slipping it into emailed invites rather than just the regular comments.

The thing is that whenever any popular service leaves a door open like this it will be exploited because it is a huge money maker. With a creative landing page and a good offer, a spammer can easily make anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in a very short time. The problem with these gray to black hat techniques is that sooner or later they will get shut down. Either the company paying for the offer will get complaints or the service with the loophole will shut it down. However, in most cases, a significant profit has been made and it’s on to the next exploit.

It’s a tricky fine line for a service provider to walk when they thrive on user provided content and referrals. If they leave the door too open, it will get exploited, often rather quickly. If they close everything up or make things difficult, user won’t be as ’sticky’. Either way they stand to lose visitors and thus money.

As for the spammers, they’re obviously taking advantage of a loophole in the system. Are they criminals like the story says? I don’t think so unless their offer does things that are illegal like a drive-by spyware install. Otherwise they’re simply taking advantage of an advertising opportunity.

What do you think? Are they advertisers or criminals?


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1 Comment »

2008-08-08 23:30:06

I think they are unscrupulous advertisers, but not criminals. Too bad their actions can ruin things for the rest of us.

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