MSN Strider Search Defender

MSN Research Team: hunting down search spam

The Microsoft STRIDER project team, part of the software giant’s Cybersecurity and Systems Management Group, is working on one of the very promising projects aiming at neutralizing search engine spamming.

On Wednesday July 12th the research group released a technical report update (codenamed: MSR-TR-2006-97) to introduce their new tool.
According to MS Asia principal scientist Yi-Min Wang, the ultimate goal is to dig out and filter spam web pages so down the line spammers would be discouraged.

If in theory not a real breakthrough, the approach used by the research team would show a definite change in the way of fighting down spam.
Instead of running algorithm specific filters to eliminate unethically behaving websites, MSN seems to use the most practical approach: finding them through search engines.

The “anti-spam” Search Defender tool would start browsing the web from a pre-identified URL list to discover other addresses linking to the target site (strider URL tracer).
Microsoft would combine their tool with the so-called “Strider-typo”, a search software hunting down typo-squatting. Typo squatting being named after these domains registered based on typo variations and usually redirecting the user to a paid per click based page.

Because they are free and hosted on most legitimate domains, a lot of spammers implement their blackhat of techniques on blog sites such as blogspot, blogdrive or blogspirit but also anywhere free hosting is provided.
Outclassing sales of some well known doorway page generators, blog spamming softwares have flourished for the past couple of years. This actually led to creating a new internet term “Splog” (Spam blog).

The Strider team is currently collaborating closely with the MSN search project team in order to test and implement their discoveries.

Spam has always existed in the search industry, low-end type of businesses or affiliates have always looked for shortcuts to generate traffic. Sending SERP quality feedbacks to Google, Yahoo, MSN is often reported unsuccessful. Automated spam removal sounds like a great idea, let’s see how it works. Cleaner search experience will primarily benefit the end consumer, and the first search engine that is able to offer an almost 100% clean result page to any query, could significantly increase its market share.
Even though introduced as a solution for all search engines, the Strider team will benefit MSN in the first place - a quantum leap that the Redmond company would certainly appreciate against its competitor Google. Good luck to them anyway.

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