The 2010 World Cup has seen a marked rise in search engine optimisation (SEO) poisoning, with millions of fans turning to Google as they search online for football-related topics. The search engine giant has, however, been quick to assure users that it has implemented sophisticated systems to detect and resolve SEO instances.
SEO poisoning is where cybercriminals attempt to push their fake websites to the top of search engine rankings in an attempt to trick users into downloading malware like fake antivirus software.
Comments a Google spokesperson: “Trying to rig popular sites and search engines to distribute malware is not a new industry phenomenon. We work hard to protect our users from malware, and many of these sites have been removed from our index.
“Using any Google product to serve or host malware is a violation of our product policies. In all cases, we actively work to detect and remove sites that serve malware from our search index.”
Google also often adds warning labels to search results that highlight sites that could be vehicles for malware.
Says the spokesperson: “However, it's important to recognise that malware is a broad issue that affects more than just Google and other search engines, as malicious sites are still part of the general web. We're always exploring new ways to identify and eliminate malicious sites from our index."
Kevin Hogan, senior director, development at Symantec, welcomes Google’s swift response in moving quickly to remove poisoned search results, confirming the action has led to a decrease in the phenomenon.
“Symantec Security Response has been following these attacks closely for around 18 months when they first started to appear. We rely on both our network-based and file-based detection engines to protect our customers from the initial poisoned domain.
“We also block the Fake AV (antivirus) sites that they’re often redirected to. Finally, we detect the Fake AV programs and, in some instances, their network traffic as well. Key here is that we rely on a layered approach to protection, rather than just detecting a file or single domain.”
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