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Cybercriminals Sharpening SEO Skills: Avast

Matt Hines, security expert at security firm Avast, claimed that malware purveyors have been engaged in improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques and increasing the pace at which this wicked assault code gets tied to the search terms in breaking news, as per the news published by mediapost.com on February 19, 2010.

This conclusion has come after researchers at the security firm exposed a network that hosts hundreds of malicious links via hacked websites in order to deceive Google search algorithms. These promote the gang-controlled websites among the PageRank system of Google.

In this way, by placing among the top search results, such organized cybercriminal gangs are gaining success in propelling products like rogue anti-virus software to users and stealing their confidential user information. In late 2009, the FBI (US) estimated that fake anti-virus constitute US$ 150 Million industry.

In the meantime, a recent news that has gained extremely quick response from malware gangs is the heart surgery of former American President Bill Clinton. Within no time after the announcement of the surgery, almost 70 different URLs were quickly put into use in related assaults.

Under this particular assault model, when a user's search is based on keywords which have been targeted by SEO assailants, he/she gets results that usually include several URLs which have already been compromised and involved in redirection schemes.

It is learnt that SEO maximizing unit normally employs a complete network of hijacked websites laden with invisible link-filled content, increasing their probability to come up after the search term is entered in Google by the users, explained the researchers at Avast.

Jindrich Kubec, director of anti-virus research, Avast, stated cybercriminals didn't take long to target keywords on Bill Clinton after his operation, reported securitywatch.eweek.com on February 19, 2009.

This sophisticated systematic approach to SEO manipulation and assault is highly popular and expected to continue in use unless and until end users show the smart act and change their approach of visiting suspicious and unknown sites, or the other way can be security firms collaborating with Google, said Kubec.

He further noted that the network his firm has unearthed includes four different business units which deal with search engine optimization, consumer-facing hacked sites, malware domains and redirector sites.

Related article: Cheburgen.a: A New Email Worm

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