Feeds

Miscreants subvert search results to punt malware

Using botnets to plant links and nurture zombie farms

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Miscreants have set out to poison search results with links to malware infested sites via a new campaign.

Users searching Google or other prominent search engines for sites referring to innocuous terms ranging from "alternative router firmware" to "cotton gin and slavery" are often confronted with a list of results where at least some point to malware.

Comment spam attacks, which involve posting links to dodgy sites on blogs, have been taking place for at least three years. Search engines such as Google give priority to sites linked to from popular web destinations. Spammers and their hacking accomplices try to take advantage of this behaviour in order to illicitly gain higher places in search page rankings.

Crackers are now getting into the act in order to punt malware. The malign sites often appear in the top ten lists for a particular search term though rarely (if ever) as a top entry. Miscreants are essentially gaming search engines' ranking systems by automatically posting links to malign sites in blog and forum posts.

It's another example of bots being used to further an attempt to create further opportunities to ensnare the unwary, thereby creating a bigger network of compromised machines.

Anti-spyware firm Sunbelt Software said hackers have also created "tens of thousands of individual pages" that have been meticulously established with the goal of obtaining a high search engine ranking. "Just about any search term you can think of can be found in these pages," reports Sunbelt researcher Adam Thomas.

Sunbelt has unearthed evidence of a network of bots whose sole purpose is to post spam links and relevant keywords into online forms. This network, combined with thousands of pages, have given the attackers very good (if not top) search engine positions for various search terms, the security firm reports.

Surfers who stray onto the malicious sites with vulnerable systems are infected with a strain of malware called Scam-Iwin, using the infamous iFrame IE exploit. The exploit was patched by Microsoft months ago, but many vulnerable systems remain.

Computers infected with Scam-Iwin transmit false clicks to the hacker's URLs without the user's knowledge. These bogus hits generate income for hackers through a pay-per-click affiliate program. Scam-Iwin also attempts to download other items of malware (including Trojans and keystroke loggers) onto compromised PCs, Sunbelt reports.

Sunbelt has posted screenshots of several Google search results featuring links to malware-infecting sites, along with an additional explanation of the attack, here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.