The Search Engine Update, Dec. 22, 1997, Number 19

Search Engine Watch

Dec. 22, 1997 - Number 19

About The Update

The Search Engine Update is a twice-monthly update of search engine news. It is available only to those people who have subscribed to Search Engine Watch,

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General Notes

Happy Holidays, everyone! A short update this time, as it is slow, for a change. Hopefully, that means you can read it quickly and head off to whatever you may have planned for the break.

Site Updates

The SpiderSpotting Chart in the main site has been updated, as has the companion piece, More SpiderSpotting, in the Subscribers Only area.

SpiderSpotting Chart

More SpiderSpotting

Also in the main site, the Search Engine EKGs have been updated. The biggest change has been a real increase in Infoseek's crawling patterns.

Search Engine EKGs

The Media Metrix and Relevant Knowledge statistics have also been updated.

Media Metrix Ratings

Relevant Knowledge Ratings

Search Engine News

AltaVista Debuts Translation Service

AltaVista unveiled the beta test of its groundbreaking new web page translation service on Dec. 9. The service is useful in two ways: as a standalone page translator or to translate pages found during search results.

As a standalone service, AtlaVista Translations allows you to input the address of any web page and have that page translated from English to French, German, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. Translations from these languages to English is also possible.

You can also insert any copy directly into the translation box and receive a translation.

In the main AltaVista search service, results are displayed with the word "translate" at the end of each listing. Selecting the word forwards the URL to the translation page, where you select your desired language. The page is then translated.

Translations are done automatically, by machine. The project is known internally as Babelfish, a reference from "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Babel fish were small fish that were put in the ear to provide instant translation of unknown languages.

Don't expect the translations to match those done professionally. However, there's no doubt the service will be useful, even if the translations are not 100% perfect.

AltaVista Translations: Standalone Service



Fake Yahoo "Award" Message Scam, Virus Scare

First, a few Yahoo users were told they'd been exposed to a virus. Then, some users were tricked out of their credit card details by someone pretending to work for Yahoo.

On Dec. 8, some people saw a virus warning message left behind in the Yahoo site by hackers. The message said anyone who had visited the site within the last month was infected with a virus that would activate on Christmas Day. Yahoo says there is no such virus, and that the threat is a hoax.

Next, on Dec. 12, someone took advantage of Yahoo's free email service to dupe people into sending them credit card details.

An official sounding message was sent out to an unknown number of people telling them they had won a free 56K modem. To collect their "prize," they were told to send a credit card number to cover a $5 shipping fee.

Yahoo estimates less than 100 people were tricked this way. It is trying to contact all victims and is investigating the crime.

The key to the scam's success was the use of the official sounding "" email address.

Anyone can open a free Yahoo email account with fake personal details. This provides them with an address that ends with, which until the new service began, was a format only available to Yahoo staff. Yahoo chose to make the address widely available to reinforce its brand.

After the new service began, Yahoo corporate addresses changed to a format. However, many people don't realize this. Thus, it was only a matter of time before someone took advantage of the confusion to pretend they were from Yahoo.

In this scam, a different email account was used to send the message, and the Yahoo address was used to receive messages.

Anyone who receives suspicious email that appears to be from Yahoo is asked to forward the message to The service also provides these tips to avoid fraud. Look out for:

+ Someone asking for confidential information such as credit card numbers, bank account information or passwords

+ Someone you have never met claiming to be a representative of an online service or any other company

+ Someone notifying you that you have won a prize or a contest that you did not enter

Yahoo: Con Artists Collecting Credit Card Info
PC World, Dec. 12, 1997

Yahoo recovers from scam, hack, Dec. 12, 1997,4,17318,00.html

Scammers Use Yahoo Again
Wired, Dec. 12, 1997

Yahoo suffers short hack attack, Dec. 9, 1997,4,17155,00.html

End Notes

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