Feeds

Googlewhack trick used to slip junk mail past spam filters

Spammers feel lucky

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Advanced features in Google's search engine are being used by spammers to disguise the URLs of spamvertised sites. Hackers have been using Google search functions to hunt for vulnerabilities. Now their peers in the junk mail business are getting into the act, Symantec reports.

Google supports a variety of advanced query words that are capable of narrowing the scope of a search. Spammers have latched onto this functionality as a means to direct an end user to a URL advertising their products or services, without directly pointing at a site. The approach, as with so many in the field of spamming, is designed to bypass junk mail filters.

Symantec came across the technique after coming across spam emails containing a URL that, on casual inspection, resembled a "Google search results" link. However, when clicked, the URL directs surfers to a site selling replicas of expensive watches, pens, and jewelry.

The trick worked because a spammer had managed to make a search query that was specific to their website, using an advanced Google search combining the "inurl" and "intext" operators. Next comes the clever part: spammers simulate a user click on Google's seldom-used "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, so that surfers are taken directly to the first result that comes up for the entered search query. As the spammer has designed the query to yield only one result - that of the spamvertised site - surfers are taken directly to a junk-mail-promoted site after selecting what looks like a search result entry.

Having designed the trick, it's straightforward for spammers to pump out emails designed to evade junk mail filters. Fortunately anti-spam firms are able to counter the approach, which represents another skirmish in the ongoing war of the inboxes between those developing junk mails and filters. "As usual, spammers keep changing their techniques to defeat the filters," explains Symantec researcher Jitender Sarda. "But on the other hand, we develop new techniques and technology to counter them." ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.