Search Poisoning

Picture of a laptop with Google open

Have you done a search on Google or other search engines, only to find that the results on the top positions looking odd. The resulting links of this search would include unusual domain names, incorrect spelling and bad grammar. This is your first clue of “search poisoning” or “poisoned” links.

Search Poisoning causes a search to display links to websites that are riddled with malicious software such as viruses, malware, key loggers etc. These links are typically positioned at the top of a search result.

Hackers will essentially identify top trending topics and subsequently will build websites filled with these popular terms. These sites then get indexed and eventually show up in search results. Initially these sites are quite harmless, but as they climb in the search rankings, they are switched to infected sites. Unsuspecting users would click on these links and fall victim to malicious sites where malware would be download to their computers.

Poisoned links are especially prominent before special holidays/events. For example, weeks before Christmas, hackers may launch sites of holiday recipes. The site may contain content stolen from valid sites or they may have totally irrelevant content. The objective of these sites being to lure users to the sites and subsequently infect their systems with malware to gain access to sensitive or confidential information.

Below are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Pay close attention to the URL address before clicking. If the URL contains an unusual extension, better to err on the side of caution and not click on the link.
  2. Look for poor sentence construction and bad grammar on the description of the search result.
  3. Install security software, such as BrowseControl, an Internet restriction solution for restricting user access to unauthorized sites.

Want more security tips? Check out these phishing awareness tips.

Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu is a Product Manager with CurrentWare. He enjoys helping businesses improve their employee productivity & data loss prevention efforts through the deployment of the CurrentWare solutions.