Hackers take advantage of iPad fever to poison SEO searches

31 Jan 2010

Hackers and online scammers are taking advantage of Apple iPad fever and are poisoning search results for people trying to follow the rumour mill about the iconic new gadget and directing them to rogue security software sites.

In a blog posting, Symantec security researcher Joji Hamada said that in the lead up to Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ unveiling of the new form factor mobile computer on Wednesday, he noted SEO poisoning attacks were occurring when people were searching for keywords such as “Apple Tablet.”

Now, after the product announcement has been made, we are seeing the same attack with the actual name of the product included in the search term.

“Using search terms like ‘Apple Ipad rumor’ or ‘Apple Ipad size’ are likely to produce results from sites like youcanbesureforsafe.net, antyspywarescanblog.com, or mastersmegasecurity.net, ultimately compromising your computer with rogue security software.

Those who go to these websites are re-directed to pages that scan their computers looking for loopholes and vulnerabilities.

In related news, Methusela Ferrer of software firm CA said she had seen so-called “scraper sites” change to take advantage of iPad interest.

Scraper sites are automated pages that grab or “scrape” information from news sites and other sources and combine them to keep their pages at the top of search results.

Mac users get redirected by these scraper sites to a website that asks for their credit-card numbers to buy pirated movies or sites peddling pirated software.

By John Kennedy

SEO iPad

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years