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Sinister Take on Search Engine Optimization

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Cybercriminals are increasingly using search engine optimization (SEO) to trick computer users into visiting malicious websites, according to security researchers. As part of this strategy, known as black hat SEO, cybercriminals are inserting certain keywords into articles in the hopes of making the pages rank higher in search results. In addition, criminals are stealing content from legitimate Web pages and rewriting it, a technique that makes it difficult to distinguish between malicious pages and legitimate sites.

Criminals also are hacking into legitimate sites in order to create links to their own pages. This technique allows pages run by criminals to be ranked higher in search results, since they are linked to from legitimate sites. Finally, criminals are using Google Trends to create malicious Web pages containing keywords related to events that are in the news. Once users visit these optimized malicious sites, their computers are infected with malicious code that can turn the machines into drones that send out spam. Users also can have their financial information stolen, either by the malicious code or by a pop-up that sells fraudulent security software.

Security experts are calling on search engines to take steps to protect users from cybercriminals using black hat SEO by sharing information about how their search engine rankings are computed.

From The Financial Times
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