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Research the Web for websites that offer some kind of products.

What do you find most striking about their website?
Describe the kind of hacking techniques you would use to spy on your competition.
Are there methods to spy on the competition without being on the wrong side of the Law?

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1. Research the Web for websites that offer some kind of products. What do you find most striking about their website?

Have you researched any websites yet, specifically websites that offer some kind of products?

As examples, let's look at the Brick (http://www.thebrick.com/Application/Storefronts/Splashpage.asp) and Amazon.com. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/homepage.html/002-7754980-8278410)
Please click on the links and look over the websites. What do you find most striking about their websites?

The Brick: What did you notice?

As I gleaned over the homepage, I noticed two specific things (I am not sure if I would refer to them as the most striking though!), that they had a shopping cart and a promotional offer link at the bottom of the website. These are good for me as the consumer. Then I scanned for the product types offered and prices of the product. If anything was striking, it would be the deals offered and the layout of the website makes it easy to navigate.

Then I noticed the Terms of Use and Privacy tabs at the bottom, which I clicked on and read. Clearly, hacking violates these conditions.

Amazon.com: What did you notice?

Similarly, I first noticed the shopping cart at the top. Compared to The Brick, the gift certificates are offered at the top, which might be a better marketing strategy. The Browse list makes it easy to navigate the site as well. I noticed the deals, and the language e.g. "Clearance" that would draw in the customer e.g., gain her or his attention. The conditions and privacy tabs are very small and perhaps too unnoticeable at the bottom of the web page.

What was most striking to you?

2. Describe the kind of hacking techniques you would use to spy on your competition.

I would not use any kind of hacking; it is against the law and people actually can go to jail for hacking. For example, in Israel, it turns out that at least a dozen companies in Israel had hired PIs to gather competitive intelligence on their counterparts. The PIs had purchased software from Michael Hephrati in the U.K. and sent it to the targets disguised as a legitimate email proposal. While 22 people are under arrest, indictments have been filed against 12, and the investigation continues. Concerted hacking attacks to gather information from competitors are going on in the U.S. as well, although nothing of this scale has been disclosed to date but it could be going on ...

Solution Summary

By responding to the questions, this solution evaluates a website on several dimensions e.g. what is striking, what type of hacking techniques would a person use to spy on the competition, etc.

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