Retailers are using Internet Affiliate Marketing as a preferred method to increase their network coverage. But according to reports coming out from the Black Hat conference from the USA, this may be helping scammers to.
According to Bradley Anstis, vice president of technical strategy for M86 Security, unethical and some criminal affiliates act as agents for scamming organisations selling everything from drugs to so called effective weight loss products. Putting the stop on unscrupulous Internet Affiliate Marketers could be one of the most efficient strategy for reducing spam and phishing.
Security research is going after botnet networks, and they’re going after all those sorts of aspects of the cybercrime ecosystem. But affiliate programs can also have a pretty interesting effect on cybercrimes. The idea is to inform and educate so that those who use affiliate programs can recognise those that are unethical and most importantly either avoid them or do something to flash them out.
Researchers have spent some time studying spammers, botnets, and crooked operations. These unsavoury characters are often connected with a small number of Internet Affiliate Marketing individuals or organisations, who help scammers manage their marketing logistics.
In effect scammers communicate with affiliate programs who act as a go-between to the actual merchants. So depending on how legitimate the product claims are these spammers could be operating just within the legal boundaries.
As an example take the Belly Fat ads that have been plaguing the net for the best part of a year, those affiliates scammers responsible for these ads have been pursued by the FTC working on a lawsuit across states. They are also pursuing other scam products such as acai berry supplements and other diet miracles.
"The piece that really nailed it for us was the closure of Spamit last year, in which we saw the volume of spam plummet overnight," Anstis says. "The closure was the single biggest impact on spam volumes in the last four years."
As retailers expand and subject the Internet Affiliate Marketing business to more spam and fraud there is light at the end of the tunnel. What is important is for all would be marketers to be vigilant and do their due diligence before embarking on any online project.
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