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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Google Poisoning Giving SEO a Bad Name

Red Tape, the technology blog at MSNBC.com, has an interesting article discussing a new term to me called "Google Poisoning". Google Poisoning is when a group of sites organize a sophisticated attack to take over top spots in search results. The poisoners then use their top positions to redirect users to a maze of redirected sites in order to infect vulnerable computers with spyware and whatever else they care to install. You can see an example from the most recent Google poisoning attack in the picture provided by Sunbelt Software, the Security firm who first discovered the attack..

Sunbelt Software found that a simple search for something like "funny dog picture" on Google directed searchers to Web sites hosted on Chinese domains. People who visited those sites were asked to install "Spy-Shredder" a rogue anti-spyware program.

Alex Eckelberry, the CEO of Sunbelt Software, says he was amazed at the scale and sophistication of the attack by people he calls "SEO Gods". In the most recent attack, Eckelberry says the criminals coordinated a large scale attack that put 40,000 to 50,000 of these malicious pages online at the same time and caused users "bad infections" if they visited those pages.

Google promptly took these pages out of their index when they were notified of the problem but Eckelberry state these criminals can "take any site and get it on the first page of the Google results." If that is the case, I'm not sure why these attackers are wasting their time with spyware, rather than getting some sites ranked for "viagra", "web-hosting", "insurance settlement" or any other of the high payout affiliate terms.

I dug through the Sunbelt blog's posts on the topic, which are here, here, here and here. But to summarize the attackers used a maze of sophisticated 302 redirects, fancy javascript, and operating system vulnerabilities to trick Google and its users.

When it gets down to it, 40k-50k is a relatively small number of sites but I hope Google is proactive in preventing this in the future before it gets out of hand and if any of you criminals are reading this, care to share your 'SEO God' tactics?


Last week alone, criminals posted 40,000 to 50,000 of these malicious pages in a single, coordinated attack, said Alex Eckelberry, CEO of Sunbelt.

By Matt O'Hern at 11:11 PM | Comments (2)

(2) Thoughts on Google Poisoning Giving SEO a Bad Name

Hi Evan,

Its true this is happening all around and it would be a big menace if Google doesn't come up with strict measures.

Special SEO Affiliates - SPAM HUNTER should be made and google should reward them , in that manner we can really get rid off the spammers & the evil.


Regards
Pravish thomas
Research Analyst

Comments by Pravish : Monday, December 10, 2007 at 01:42 AM

Pravish,

Thanks for the comment. That sure is an interesting theory but I completely agree. I've always wondered why Google and the other engines don't allow the community to help them more, even if it isn't the final solution, you'd think our input would be helpful somewhat.

Who knows

Comments by Evan : Monday, December 10, 2007 at 03:35 PM

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