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Hackers hop onto royal engagement search results

Malwarey Middleton meddling by miscreants

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Knaves, scoundrels and traitors to the crown took only minutes to leap onto yesterday's news of the royal engagement in a bid to expose sentimentally patriotic surfers to malware.

Links to malicious sites appeared prominently in Google searches for Kate Middleton. Malicious downloads are offered to surfers under the guise of a Firefox update, as explained in a blog post by GFI Software here.

Net security firm Websense adds that Prince William-themed search terms have also been poisoned, in many cases towards redirecting surfers towards sites touting rogue anti-virus (scareware).

Our prediction yesterday that the Royal Wedding announcement might be abused as a theme for malware scams was always an odds-on bet.

Websense recently reported that 22.4 per cent of all searches for current news leads to malicious search results, a figure that probably increases for the biggest stories such as the Royal wedding engagement announcement and last year's death of Michael Jackson.

The process of manipulating search results - black hat search engine optimisation - has been going on for at least three or four years and is increasingly becoming automated. Hackers affiliated with scareware outfits in the Ukraine, Russia and elsewhere carry out the coding work. ®

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