B2B Articles - Aug 7, 2011 4:37:15 PM

ISPs dirty monetization: investigation of unexpected DNS-based redirections using keywords for profit

Search traffic monetization from ISPs - website redirection for profitA recent study by a UC Berkeley research group, Netalyzr, revealed a sneaky tactic by ISPs in the US, which redirect keyword search traffic directly to websites instead of a search engine--allowing the ISP to profit from the affiliate relationship. Essentially the ISPs are (as the research group put it) "hijacking" users' web search queries for their own profit.

The study consisted of over 2,000 Netalyzr sessions initiated by customers of a dozen US ISPs. The study noticed that the redirection occurs with approximately ~170 keywords, derived from the names of large websites. Outside of these cases the search conducted by a user would direct normally to Bing, Yahoo, Google or an ISP run search engine as expected. The ISPs have used a service called Paxfire, which specializes in DNS error traffic monetization  in order to hijack the select search traffic based on backroom business deals.

Source: Netalyzr - Debug your Internet, A tool and comprehensive measurement study focusing on the health of the Internet.

This study was conducted in conjunction with New Scientist and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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