Feeds

Google Instant a potential bonanza for search scams

You type it in here, and it comes out there

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
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?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.