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Internet Search for Earthquake Triggers Scareware

China was hit by an earthquake on April 14, 2010, and the catastrophe is still being used by the scammers as a theme for black hat search engine optimization (BHSEO) campaigns for pushing scareware.
As per the details, taking advantage of the panic caused by the ill-fated incident and the anxiety of some people to get timely updates of the events, cyber felons made use of Google Trends and other related searches in a bid to poison the quake-related search results.
Reportedly, the results of BHSEO campaign were effective to the extent that of the top 20 searches, 18 were malicious. Rogue URLs are the outcome of one of the most sought after keywords "China earthquake 2010".

The ill-fated users who unwillingly visit these rogue addresses receive bogus security alerts that encourage them for installing a counterfeit antivirus program on their system. In actual terms, the main motive of these applications, together known as rogueware or scareware, is only to persuade naïve users into divulging their financial details.

Cyber criminals are increasingly using the SEO poisoning as popular mode of attack. This further demonstrates that more and more sophisticated techniques are now being used to launch attacks. In fact, SEO poisoning is now a growing model for conducting cybercrime business.

A latest Sophos research showed that cybercriminals employ automated kits for the application of BHSEO methods, skeptically exploiting scandalous or tragic breaking news stories to ruin the searches with the aim to lead the Web surfers to scams like scareware download portals.

Cyber miscreants have not left anything to exploit right from the Mexican earthquake to celebrity news like Corey Haim's recent death, to suicide bombings at Moscow and Google Wave invitations.

Apparently the most recent scareware scam shows that although the search engine giant Google is making efforts to keep pace with these attacks and label these vicious links as unsafe, many of these have not been blocked yet, thus giving an opportunity to cybercriminals to exploit naive netizens.

Experts suggest everyone to depend on only reliable and reputed websites for searching news on the Internet. Users must run an up-to-date and effective antivirus program if they feel that their computers are infected as a result of this tragedy.

Related article: Internet Threat Volumes Overwhelm Security Companies

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