Blackhat SEO Targets Popular Website

An unfortunate side effect of being the biggest, the best, or at least the most noticeable, is that it makes you a target for the less scrupulous. This is where popular Chinese entertainment and information site, Mop.com, found themselves the object of a blackhat SEO campaign.

It seems that only visitors to the site who are directed by search engine Baidu.com are affected by the malicious hackers.

Mop.com is an immensely popular Chinese website, especially with those who play World of Warcraft. The site has over 50 million registered users and receives four times that many page views daily. It is the 274th most visited website in the world, according to Alexa – though that may indeed take a hit as blackhat SEOs insert malicious code into the site. How does this work? The code looks for the presence of popular Chinese security program 360 Safeguard. If it doesn’t find it, it redirects users to URLs which contain the malicious program. If it is able to complete installation of 55.exe, a file which is very hard for standard security programs to detect, then an information-stealing program is installed.

The risk is that users’ password, personal, and financial information will be stolen.  According to InternetNews, “At this point, it’s too early to say just how many people were suckered into divulging their login data. And, perhaps more troubling, it’s unclear yet exactly what the hackers plan (or have already begun) to do with the stolen information.”

Gamers have been told to exercise caution when visiting the site, and since only users directed by Baidu.com seem to be affected, it is advisable to avoid using that site as a entry point for Mop.com. However, as the malicious code could easily become more sophisticated, all users should be cautious.

Gaming is a big industry in China, with annual revenue totaling $3.9 billion. This is expected to rise to $6 billion in the next two years. The increasing popularity of online gaming and the potential for a lucrative payday for blackhat SEOs ensures that this will not be an isolated case.

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