What exactly is search engine poisoning? In a nutshell, search engine poisoning is inflicting search engine results, websites, pages or sponsored links with malwares and malicious content. Typical search engine poisoning attacks involve hackers uploading malicious content on various websites which pop up on search engine results and redirect unsuspecting visitors to the affected sites. The result of search engine poisoning attacks could be diverse. It can completely hijack one’s computer, lead to a hardware crash, steal information saved on hard drives, etc. A simplified version of search engine poisoning, and its malicious result, would be to visit a website or web page and get infected with a virus that could possibly do all kinds of damage to your system.
Search engine poisoning uses the facilities of search engine optimization. The process does not require unscrupulous types to create a new site or fret over the page rank of a specific site. It simply affects the sites which are vulnerable and leaves it for the search engine to pick them up like any other normal website and redirect users to the infectious content. Search engine poisoning is simpler than hacking, because, in this case, one does not need to gain complete control of a specific website’s server. Perpetrators can simply upload the malicious code to appear accessible for unsuspecting users. When web users click on such links, or agree to download something, the malware gets downloaded instead.
Unfortunately, search engine poisoning is becoming a larger threat than ever anticipated, due to the ever-growing popularity and outreach of search engines, and unfortunately, the possibilities for malicious attacks are endless.
With the Olympics making the most news presently, search engine poisoning attacks are using the garb of news websites, and also sites that are promoting information about the Olympics, to harm users all across the World Wide Web.
With the recent spike in search engine poisoning attacks, especially in light of the high volume of attacks that are taking advantage of public interest in the Olympic games, it is especially important to arm yourself and protect your computer.
Presently, some search engines do show notifications for potentially harmful sites, but this is not a fail-proof strategy. Here are some ways one can prevent from getting affected by search engine poisoning attacks.
- Visit only authoritative, well-known websites for your Olympics coverage. One should not visit a random, unknown website just because it claims to have information or hot news regarding the Olympics.
- In many search engine poisoning attacks, there is a fake virus alert and the users are propelled to download an anti virus tool, which is actually malicious content. Such actions should be avoided. Quickly press Alt+F4 (PC) or Command+Q (Mac) to quit out of your browser if a website suddenly forces you to download any type of program.
- While getting redirected to a site, users should not agree to any specific terms. Never click “YES” or “OK” on a popup window if you’re visiting an unfamiliar website. It’s best to exit the site if you’re bombarded with pop-up windows.
- Do not ignore your browser’s warnings of untrusted elements on a web page or malware. If you’re informed that a web page is not to be trusted, then back out and never look back!
- Have your computer armed and protected against malware. Free antivirus programs, such as AVG and Malwarebytes can keep your system safe by instantly removing threats as they appear.
If you fear you may have been impacted by malicious malware or SEO attacks, please feel free to contact one of our consultants, and we will be happy to help you in any way we can.