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Google Assisting Phishers to Spread Malware

According to McAfee, an Internet security software providing company, cyber crooks are increasingly exploiting loopholes in Google site to trick users to open malicious Websites for installing malware on their systems, as reported by Computeractive on March 19, 2008.

Researchers at McAfee have identified a new ploy implemented by spammers in which open links that appear to be pointing to Google Website redirect users to a third party page. However, the technique is not new and successful spammers have been using it for years.

According to McAfee, the scam is called open redirect on Google's site because redirect link appears to take users on Google Website. In the beginning of 2008, spammers were using ads of Google in HyperText Markup Language (HTML) format in e-mails to link users to their Websites.

McAfee explained that Google page ads were deliberately used to dupe customers by hiding the actual URLs and subverting conventional anti-spam techniques. Moreover, the linked URL can direct to any Website, as Google does not carry out any validation process. It authorizes anyone to create a new link that seems linking to the search engine but in reality, it takes user to an unknown site containing malicious code.

The loophole efficiently works for both sites and files. With this, spammers can directly link to executable codes that can easily download onto the users computer.

Vinoo Thomas, Security Researcher, McAfee, said that however the problem arises due to lack of Google's initiative to block the redirect links because, these kinds of techniques are prevalent for sometime. Undoubtedly, Google is not unknown to the redirect abuse but it's difficult to understand why it fails to work out plan to stop redirect links from spreading malware and spam through sites, as reported by PCPro on March 19, 2008.

In January 2008, similar kind of technique was founded in which SkyDrive service of Microsoft misused by spammers. spammers hosted the sites by using this technique to redirect to other Web pages hosting malware as by giving links of SkyDrive service in e-mails, messages easily pass through the spam filters.

Related article: Google Rectifies Gmail flaw in Three Days

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