Using search engines to browse the Internet these days is a dangerous endeavor. Cyber criminals are keen on gaming search engine algorithms and are able to quickly divert innocent news seekers to malicious websites.  Today, WIRED reported that cyber criminals were targeting a highly anticipated Dan Brown novel, but the target and scope is much deeper than that.  Literally every current relevant news topic is actively targeted each day, including highly publicized speeches given by President Obama this week.

Clicking the following link in a Google search result will point us to a malicious Rogueware campaign page:   

 

 

Malware Info: Adware/SmartVirusEliminator

 

 Investigating the attack shows us a bigger picture of the targeted keywords:

 

Most commonly targeted keywords:

  • Obama Speech
  • GM group enterprises
  • Apple
  • Beatles
  • America
  • White House
  • Jon Gosselin
  • Live Interview
  • School Season
    The full list of targeted keywords can be downloaded here: BlackhatSEO2.txt

Over the past six months that PandaLabs has closely tracked the evolution of Blackhat SEO attacks, we’ve seen these targeted campaigns be executed by cybercriminals with increasing levels of speed and sophistication.  Today, Blackhat SEO is truly a mainstream tactic used by cyber criminals.  Targeting real-time news events is a serious problem not only for search engines, but for all parties involved in malware mitigation.  In shifting to the "real-time web," the entire IT security community must also recognize the need for real-time Malware protection and this is precisely why the move to cloud-based antivirus technology is necessary.