Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Archive for the malware Category

Twice As Much Malware On Google?

Baracuda Labs 2010 midyear security reportBarracuda Labs conducted a study across Bing, Google, Twitter and Yahoo!, over a roughly two-month period, and found that Google has twice as many links to malware as Bing, Yahoo! and Twitter combined.  They were looking particularly at “trending topics”: timely issues related to news, current events, and other emerging topics. In their forward, they state:

Everyday more information and more people come online. This creates opportunities in making new connections and finding new things. This is the core of what fuels progress on the Internet. However, this influx of activities also creates new opportunities for attackers to insert themselves. We have focused on understanding how attackers are pursuing these opportunities.

Key findings include these:

  • Google takes the crown for malware distribution – turning up more than twice as much malware as Bing, Twitter and Yahoo! combined when searches on popular trending topics were performed. Google scored 69%; Yahoo! 18 %; Bing 12%; and Twitter 1%.
  • The average amount of time for a trending topic to appear on one of the major search engines after appearing on Twitter varied tremendously: 1.2 days for Google, 4.3 days for Bing, and 4.8 days for Yahoo!
  • Most of the malware found was between the hours of 4:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. GMT.
  • The top 10 terms used by malware distributors include the name of a NFL player, three actresses, a Playboy Playmate and a college student who faked his way into Harvard.

Be Alert for Domain Scams

domain scam alertTwo of our clients have come to us within the past few days to ask about bills they got in the mail that looked like invoices for domain name registration renewals. They came from Domain Listing Service, and close inspection shows they are for “Annual Website Search Engine Listing” at a cost of $75.

If you get one of these, don’t pay it!

They promise quarterly submissions to 25 major search engines … which won’t help your rankings in the least. But if any of our clients want that done, Rank Magic will do it for free. (Partly because that’s all it’s worth to you.)

The next questionable approach is a fax that looks very legalese and quotes an extensive excerpt from the United States Legal Code, Title 15. The scary headline says FINAL NOTICE OF DOMAIN EXTENSION and the fax will show your domain name prominently, but with a different extension. I’ve received several, including one listing RANKMAGIC.US for instance.

What they’re offering is to allow you to reserve another version of your domain to prevent some other company taking that domain and causing confusion among your customers. If you think that might be a problem, go ahead and register other domains — with .net, .org, .us, .biz, .tv or whatever other top level domain extensions you want. Typical cost is $25/year apiece, but  if you call the toll free number on this fax, they’ll try to sell it to you for a 10-year term or a 5-year term. If you ask for the 1-year rate, they quote $35.

I plan to toss all of these right into the circular file.

The Most Common Preventable Security Hole

most common preventable security holeJonathan James hacked into the Pentagon and NASA computer systems in 1999 at the age of 15 and became the youngest person to go to jail under the federal cybercrime law. Now 23, he was interviewed by PC Magazine (August 21, 2007 issue) about the state of online security. His response to a key question was important:


What is the most common preventable security hole you’ve seen


Aside from users, I’d have to say updates. Users always ignore messages about updating software, so they’re often running vulnerable apps. I guess they don’t realize that outdated software often is outdated because someone found a way to use it to take over your computer. Even after a vendor releases a patch for a new vulnerability, there are still a lot of people running the vulnerable software. Sometimes (probably not as rarely as you’d think) companies run vulnerable software for years because a computer is functioning as it should and they operate under an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” policy.

Oh — and don’t use Internet Explorer.

Some People Will Click On Anything

Know why there’s so much spam hitting your in-box? Because there are still people who will buy stuff from those guys. I’ve often wondered, “who would be stupid enough to buy from some sleaze-ball who sends them spam?” Sadly, the answer appears to be “lots of people”.

Pose whatever theory you like as to why, but an AdWords experiment revealed that people will click on just about anything – even if the ad tells them their computer will be infected with a virus if they do. (!) One ad had a headline that said “Get infected here!”. Over 400 people clicked on it.

Here’s the full story. <sigh>

Nigerian Scam: New Wrinkle

You may be familiar with the Nigetian scam: Someone from a sub-Saharan African country send you an email claiming to be a surviving family member of some high ranking family, who has millions of dollars to transfer to a US bank in order to save it from confiscation by the new military government. For a percentage of those millions, he needs you to set up a bank account to receive the money, and pay several thousand dollars of “good faith money”.

Well, it’s not just an email scam anymore. This week I received a priority mail letter (through the actual Post Office) from the Netherlands. It was personally addressed to me, and was a classic Nigerian scam. There was no return address; just a yahoo email address to contact the person if I was greedy enough to fall for the pitch.

I found it rather amusing, but the fact that they’re still doing this means there are still people falling for the con game. You can learn more about it here.