Today, we released the first in a series of reports. Our first report is about Microsoft, and how rogue Internet pharmacies are being allowed to participate in its online advertising program for bing.com.
What is our report fundamentally about? Well, bing.com displays online advertisements (at the top and right side of the page) when you conduct a search. Because most Internet users don’t go beyond the first page of search results, that’s valuable virtual real estate. Every time an Internet user clicks on one of those ads, Microsoft receives advertising revenue. Microsoft also has the ability to control what kind of ads are displayed, and which ones are prohibited.
In short, Microsoft has the ability, and responsibility, to make sure it isn’t displaying, much less profiting from, Internet ads for websites engaged in illegal activity– like selling prescription drugs without a license or a prescription.
Unfortunately, that’s just what we found. Among our findings:
- 89.7% of the bing.com Internet pharmacy ads that we reviewed are acting unlawfully in some way.
- We successfully purchased prescription drugs without a prescription from bing.com Internet pharmacy advertisers.
- We submitted some of the drugs for testing, and the drugs tested positive as counterfeit.
- We identified serious security gaps in Microsoft’s online advertising program, allowing a rogue Internet pharmacy like store.k2med.com to advertise under the name of a domestic, US-licensed pharmacy but redirect traffic to the no-prescription-required, fake website. This happened in several cases, which is bad news for bing.com’s advertisers.
- Many of the rogue Internet pharmacy advertisers are members of criminal networks responsible for much of the world’s spam, counterfeit drugs, and cybercrime, like GlavMed.
- Inexplicably, these dangerous websites are allowed to sell prescription drugs with the imprimatur of Microsoft approval. The problem is, some Internet users looking for a safe, legitimate Internet pharmacy might assume that if it is “sponsored” by Microsoft on bing.com (as online advertisements are said to be), it is okay to use it, since Microsoft is a reputable company.
- Our report focuses on ten sample bing.com Internet pharmacy ads, explains why they are “rogue” Internet pharmacies, and tells you what we know about the criminal networks that control these websites.
We are releasing this report in the hope that it will encourage Microsoft to discontinue allowing such websites to participate in bing.com’s online advertising program.