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pagejacking

Contributor(s): David Kilgariff

Pagejacking is stealing the contents of a Web site by copying some of its pages, putting them on a site that appears to be the legitimate site, and then inviting people to the illegal site by deceptive means - for example, by having the contents indexed by major search engine s whose results in turn link users to the illegal site. By moving enough of a Web site's content as well as the page descriptor information (known as META information) within each page, pagejackers can then submit the illegal site to major search engines for indexing. Users of the search engine sites may then receive results from both the illegitimate as well as the legitimate site and can easily be misled to link to the wrong one. Users linking to the illegitimate site may find themselves redirected to a pornographic or other unwanted site. As an additional annoyance, users subjected to pagejacking may also encounter mousetrapping , in which clicking the Back button with the mouse does not lead out of the illegal site but only to the viewing of additional unwanted pages. To escape, the user may need to close the browser or even restart the operating system.

Web users who enter Web page addresses (known as URLs ) directly on their Web browser address line, by selecting it from a bookmark, or by clicking on a properly coded link on another site will not be subject to pagejacking. The problem most typically occurs when clicking site descriptions that result from searches at major search engine sites. Although the practice was not new at the time, the New York Times on September 23, 1999, carried a page one story about an Australian company that had pagejacked a number of corporate sites, adding pornographic links or ads, and mousetrapping users. Australian officials were reported to be considering civil or criminal charges and a U.S. Federal judge in Virginia, where the original Internet site registration company is located, ordered the sites to lose their Web registrations.

This was last updated in September 2005

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