SEO Poisoning “Way Up” in 2010

Renowned internet security solution firm, Websense, released its annual Threat Report in early November, and not surprisingly, SEO “poisoning” remains an Internet threat. What might be surprising, 

however, is just how much instances of SEO poisoning, or blackhat SEO, has increased: there has been an incredible 111.4 percent jump in the number of malicious websites. According to Websense’s report, “The shark swims where the seal plays. SEO poisoning continued to be one of the most significant trends throughout 2009, as malware authors focused on entertainment buzz and breaking news.” It is now just as easy to pick up malware via a trending topic as it is through the traditional site containing “adult” content.

When searchers look for information on trending topics, including current events and entertainment news, malicious websites account for at least 24 percent of the results. Almost eighty percent of malicious codes were embedded in legitimate sites that had been compromised. What this means is that it can be very difficult to ascertain whether a site is tainted or not. Major events, such as the earthquake in Haiti and the World Cup, led to an uptick in the number of spam campaigns and attacks. With the holidays coming up, there is expected to be yet another increase in malicious sites in searches related to gift-giving, holiday decorating, and other seemingly innocuous queries.

Websense experts believe that SEO poisoning will remain a threat in 2011. “SEO optimization combined with rogue AV and email containing data stealing components will not slow down in the next 12 months. Relying on reactive security measures such as standalone AV will simply fail to provide adequate protection against these advanced techniques that combine Web, data loss prevent (DLP), and email.”

Protection with real-time security solutions allows a more integrated approach to fighting black hat SEOs.

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