Feeds

Google red cards Privila for gaming search engine

Articles of bad faith?

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

Google has removed Privila sites from its index after the firm was caught attempting to hoodwink the search engine giant.

Chicago-based Privila has built "portals" designed to have relatively high search engine ranking scores while presenting nothing but ads. The firm's modus operandi involves buying sites after the original owner forgets to renew a registration.

Examples in the network include wallofdove.com, previously owned by a stoner metal band called Dove; bustem.com, the one-time website of a brand-protection outfit; sailjworld.com, the former home of a Maryland sailing school; and soccerlove.com.

Privila fills these bought-in sites with custom-written material, generated by unpaid interns. These articles are strangely worded affairs, distorted so as to include the maximum number of keywords. Each site on the network contains a score of "articles" each around the 600 words mark.

These sites are promoted by link exchange spam. But following a recent refinement in the technique users who visit these sites will see nothing but banner ads, created by unpaid graphics interns, unless they set their browser’s user-agent to match that of Google’s spider. By dropping the "articles", Privila was able to fit in even more ads.

The ruse came to light after researchers at Cambridge University's Computer Lab received a link invitation spam email from a Privila-run site. Steven Murdoch of Cambridge Uni discovered 329 websites in the Privila network after he investigated the business model behind spam emails unwisely sent to his colleague, Richard Clayton.

"Curiously, the Windows Live Search, and Yahoo! spiders are presented with an almost empty page: just a header but neither adverts nor articles," Murdoch writes.

Google purged Privila sites from its index on 8 March, a day after Murdoch wrote about the scam on Cambridge University's Light the Blue Touchpaper blog. The sites remain unavailable.

We dropped Privila an email to get its take on the matters, but we're yet to hear back from the firm. ®

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
DARPA-derived secure microkernel goes open source tomorrow
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
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
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
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.