Feeds

Google Instant a potential bonanza for search scams

You type it in here, and it comes out there

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Security watchers are concerned that scareware scammers may quickly adapt to the introduction of real-time search technology from Google to develop even more potent search engine poisoning attacks.

Google Instant speeds up search results by working as users type into the Google search box. The technology predicts what users are trying to type and rapidly makes suggestions on which search term is most relevant, all in real time.

Blackhat SEO threats typically seek to make sure links to malicious sites are returned close to the top of searches for topical terms. The problem has bedevilled search engines for years and more recently has become the main tactic in promoting rogue anti-virus (AKA scareware) scam portals.

Sean-Paul Correll, a security researcher at Panda Security, warns that this contamination of search results might become even worse with the advent of 'real-time' search.

"This new technology can potentially improve existing Blackhat SEO campaigns," Correll warns. "We know for a fact that most Blackhat SEO campaigns automatically query Google’s trending topic results and now it seems that Google Instant will be suggesting those trending phrases (verbatim), potentially putting millions of victims directly in cyber criminals' cross hairs."

Not to worry though - we expect Google is even now coming up with a clever way to make search engine manipulation a thing of the past.

Or perhaps not.

Typing in "anti-virus" in Google, with the new real-time search technology enabled, returned Antivir Solution Pro, a well-known scareware pathogen, in a prominent position among the suggested search terms, as a blog post by Correll illustrates. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.