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Jan 29 2010   4:18PM GMT

A “Reverse Darwin” Award



Posted by: Arian Eigen Heald
Tags:
Eigen's Rules of Thumb
information security
Start Laughing Now

A story appeared on Techdirt concerning a woman who has sued Yahoo because her name was linked to an erectile dysfunction drug in search results. How this happened the first time, we really don’t know,but now the dark humor begins.

Actually, this is her second lawsuit concerning the same issue (the first one was tossed). She can’t seem to understand why her name is now linked with the same drug across hundreds of web sites, and blames Yahoo, yet again.

Of course, she fails to realize that by filing yet another suit, with her name linked (yet – again!) to the same drug has virtually enshrined her in the hall of fame for people who are wishing they could disappear. Given the amount of time material stays on the Web (I can find posts I’ve written 12 years ago), she can plan to be perpetually linked, due to the media exposure generated by her lawsuit.

Now, in truly bizarre Internet fashion, sleazy drug sites have been adding her name to advertisements for that same set of drugs, assuming (and rightly so) that the sites will come up when her name is entered in the search engine. The Yahoo search engine lists 290 results, 90% of which are drug/pharmacy/sleazy websites.

This is, of course, in addition to the paid-ads for the same drugs that appear along with the search engine results.

I can’t add to the torture by giving you her name, but you can Google it…… Only Yahoo has the errant connection, which also demonstrates the error in their search algorithm….

Rule of Thumb: Whatever you say on the Web, STAYS on the Web. (Especially if you don’t want it to.)

From a security perspective, hackers can find the same sort of information that might be available, on search engines and cached web files.

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