Malware authors have long sought to leverage public interest in hot-topic news items to their own ends. More recently, they are turning to the task of manipulating search engine results — “black hat SEO” — to trick news-seekers into becoming victims. eSecurity Planet looks at the latest news story to get similarly co-opted: The results of the special Senate election in Massachusetts.
Many of the Internet users looking for the latest breaking news and analysis pertaining to the Republican Party’s surprising victory in the Massachusetts Senate race this week have become the latest victims of cyber attackers and their increasingly sophisticated manipulation of search engine results.
According to a blog entry penned by Kevin Haley, Symantec’s Security Response group product manager, the much-discussed victory by GOP candidate Scott Brown over Democrat Martha Coakley has attracted malware purveyors because it has won the attention of so many online readers.
According to Symantec, 33 of the top 100 results from a search for “Massachusetts senate race results” led to malicious sites. Moreover, 11 of the first 100 results for the related search of “Brown Coakley results” also led to malicious sites used to coerce users into buying and installing bogus antivirus software.