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SEO - Top Medium of Spreading Malware in Asia

As per the data collected by TrendLabs of Trend Micro, the exploitation of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques for malicious activities made to the top position of Asia's web attacks during the first quarter of 2010. malware continued to affect the system either through internet download or through removable drives in APAC.

The security firm also revealed that cyber criminals made use of hot topics and manipulated search results to install FAKEAV on target system. Although Blackhat SEO is often used by cyber criminals, important keywords of trending topics continued to be an effective medium for malware propagation.

Besides, cyber criminals exploit blackhat SEO technique to develop web pages that accomplish the object of distributing FAKEAV. These web pages redirect innocent users and linked with other similar pages and legitimate websites. This technique helped in raising the rank of malicious pages on search engines.

In order to grab the attention of Internet users, these malicious web pages copy content from different popular websites. Cyber criminals keep themselves abreast with trendy topics which could be easily seen on Google and Twitter search page.

After the successful use of any of these techniques, cyber criminals direct users to a pages that host fake message prompt. These fake messages instruct users to check the scanning results designed to create fear in them so that they spend money on buying bogus antivirus program. Hence, these techniques have made FAKEAV a recurrent theme on the threat landscape.

Some of the major events in APAC that attract users into clicking on malicious links were the news about the malfunction of Filipino-Australian actress Anne Curtis' wardrobe, Philippines' 6.0-Magnitude earthquake and boxing match between Joshua Clottey and Manny Pacquiao. In all the attacks, the search results ended up in the download of malware that seems as if it is an antivirus software. The end objective of the three attacks is to deceive users into buying the rogue AV product.

Amit Nath, Country Manager, India & SAARC, Trend Micro, said that exploitation of vulnerabilities and blackhat SEO techniques shared the same idea. They all came from user behavior. Incidents took place in the US could happen in Asia sooner or later. There was a strong possibility of these incidents, as reported by CIOL on April 19, 2010.

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