News of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton has had the internet buzzing and the public looking forward to a royal spectacle of a wedding. But as is now to be expected, the trending news also became a vehicle for blackhat SEO to spread malware. The spread of malicious websites that were specially tailored with trending keywords proliferated after the earthquake in Haiti, Michael Jackson’s death, and other major, newsworthy events.
Malware authors target trending topics because, obviously, that is what people are searching for. Because thousands of media reports flooded the internet, it becomes very easy for blackhat SEOs to blend their rogue websites with legitimate ones. And often, they rank very well. Search engines often return at least ten percent malicious websites among their results. The goal is to persuade computer users to buy their rogue antivirus programs.
Graham Cluely, senior technology consultant at security firm, Sophos, says, “We’ve seen this trend before with hot news stories. Cybercriminals take advantage of popular search terms to direct browsers to bogus security sites and trick them into handing over credit card details, or into downloading further dangerous software on their computers…People mustn’t be distracted by the latest photo of the happy couple when clicking through to links. We all need to be on our guard when browsing unknown and untrustworthy sites.” To avoid being infected with malware, stick to reliable, reputable sites and always use caution when clicking through on links.