Our pal ScipioAfricanus gives us more information on the Overstock.com “Black Ops” activity. Judd Bagley, Director of Communications at Overstock.com, has this nasty little habit related to spyware. He’s been caught embedding images in public message board posts… those special images (not visible if you just look at the face of the post itself) send back to Bagley the IP addresses of those who view his messages.
Now it’s one thing to look at IP addresses for sites you own. No harm there. It’s another thing to use secret spyware to grab the IP addresses of people using someone else’s site.
Scipio revealed that Bagley has a file on a computer he uses with the following directory structure:
C:/Documents and Settings/Owner/My Documents/Black Ops/Sites/o-smear/070830 checkuser ST.html
Well isn’t that interesting? Bagley has a folder named “Black Ops” and then a subfolder named “Sites” with a subfolder “O-Smear” (the name of Scipio’s blog).
Scipio got this information from Bagley himself when he opened the file in question. The file was likely part of a copy of Scipio’s blog, and contained a bit of code to track visitors to Scipio’s blog. I wonder if Judd realized this would log a hit on Scipio’s blog and give Scipio this information:
Last Visit Time:
August 30, 2007 2:13:50 PM
It gets even more interesting. Bagley has a dynamic IP address, meaning that it changes from time-to-time. So how can Scipio know for sure that it was Bagley doing this? Well Bagley has often been known to point to others with dynamic IPs and say he had proof positive that they were responsible for certain online activity. (No, it’s not really positive since the IP address could have been used by anyone in the same block.)
But Scipio thinks we should apply Bagley’s own (flawed) logic to this situation in exactly the same way Bagley uses it on others. I agree.
And Gary Weiss provides some interesting information on this situation:
Some insights from a person familiar with Overstock from the inside:
- Prior to being caught using spyware, Bagley had been spending most of his time surfing the web and working on Byrnes Jihad. Now he “apparently” just surfs the web from 9-5. (And his fingers just happen to slip onto the keyboard by accident from time to time.)
- Byrne is trying to distance himself figuratively and literally from Bagley, and has moved Bagley from the executive suites down to a small cubical in the marketing department.
- This person believes that Byrne is only to glad to have his misdeeds “deflected to the more visible Bagley.”
- This person has heard, but cannot prove, that Yahoo banned Overstock IPs for 24 hours because of the spyware revelations, most of which were from O-Smear.