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Security Research

Blackhat SEO Is New Spam

January 28, 2010 - 2 min read

ImageIt used to be that when you checked your email and/or email spam folder there would be a slew of messages with links or attachments that would have titles related to the popular subjects of the time, and would be used to spread malware (think Anna Kournikova).

Now the game seems to be that you sip your morning coffee and browse the web - largely driven from search results from Google. However, many of these search results cannot be trusted - Google's web of trust, Page Rank technology has been leveraged by the bad guys using search engine optimization (SEO) to spread malware. This has been seen in almost every major news story this year (for example, Haiti's Earthquake) and some not so major news stories (American Idol's 'pants on the ground' audition).

The past few days, there have been numerous big headline stories with poisoned Google search results leading the victim to Fake Anti-Virus malware: Apple's iPad announcement, Toyota's safety recall, and the State of the Union address all have poisoned search results ... just wait "Super Bowl" the bad guys will get to you next if they haven't already ...

Below are some screenshots of the poisoned results, followed by the subsequent infection. Note, visiting the SEOed links directly redirects you to a benign page, such as cnn.com; visiting with a Google referrer string (which someone following the link from Google would have) takes the user to the malicious page.

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