Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


01:16 PM
Connect Directly

Top Google Search Items Under Siege

Nearly 300 top search terms hit by 6,600 malicious URLs in past seven days

Search engine optimization (SEO) poisoning continues to be alive and well, with an unusually large wave of these attacks spotted during the past seven days targeting 284 of the top Google search terms.

SonicWALL found 6,600 malicious URLs attacking the top search terms, including "what time do the oscars start 2010" and "disney princess half marathon." As many as nine of these terms are under attack at any one time. More than 60 malicious URLs for the princess query appeared on Google's top 30 search results between March 7 and 8, and 34 malicious URLs for the Oscars query.

Why the spike in malicious URLs? "Based on the search terms that we observed, this jump can be correlated with huge public interest in finding out news related to Oscar awards," says Deepen Desai, lead malware researcher for SonicWALL. "A major spike was observed during the weekend of March 6 to 7, 2010. At one point, there were 1,200 malicious URLs appearing in the first 30 search results for the top Google search terms -- and close to 50 percent of those were related to Oscars-related search terms."

Desai says SEO poisoning attacks continue to be popular and successful because the bad guys know the latest news drives user interest. "And most of these malicious URLs appearing in the search results are compromised sites that appear legitimate," he says.

The malicious URLs mostly are spreading rogue antivirus applications, he says. "Most often these malicious URLs lead to a fake antivirus scan animation screen that alerts the users with fake detection of malware on [their] machine. It further prompts the user to download and purchase full version in order to fix the issues," he says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio


Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/3/2020
Pen Testers Who Got Arrested Doing Their Jobs Tell All
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  8/5/2020
New 'Nanodegree' Program Provides Hands-On Cybersecurity Training
Nicole Ferraro, Contributing Writer,  8/3/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
A function in Combodo iTop contains a vulnerability of Broken Access Control, which allows unauthorized attacker to inject command and disclose system information.
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
Combodo iTop does not validate inputted parameters, attackers can inject malicious commands and launch XSS attack.
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
Combodo iTop contains a stored Cross-site Scripting vulnerability, which can be attacked by uploading file with malicious script.
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
A security misconfiguration exists in Combodo iTop, which can expose sensitive information.
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-10
Combodo iTop contains a cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability, attackers can execute specific commands via malicious site request forgery.