Feeds

Googlewhack trick used to slip junk mail past spam filters

Spammers feel lucky

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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." ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.