“Osama Bin Laden Dead” Computer Security Tips: Black-Hat Search Engine Optimization (BH-SEO)

On Sunday evening, May 1, 2011, President Obama stated, “a small team of Americans raided the compound.  After a firefight, they killed Bin Laden.”  The information spread across the Internet at an exponential rate.  Twitter reported more than 4,000 tweets per second at the beginning and end of Obama’s speech, and with no surprise, Google’s top-trending search term is, “Osama Bin Laden Dead”.

As cities, military installations and US Embassies are increasing security measures at the wake of the announcement, so should organizations and individual computer users.

After every major news event in recent years, such as the “Haiti Earthquake”,  “Japanese tsunami”, “William and Kate Wedding” and now, “Osama Bin Laden dead” an increase of fraudulent web sites, links and files offering to provide information and unseen video, pictures come to a rise via emails and social networking sites.

This technique is called Black-Hat Search Engine Optimization (BH-SEO). Black Hat search engine optimization is customarily defined as techniques that are used to get higher search rankings in an unethical manner (Boswell, 2011).  For example, a cyber-crook can increase their search-ranking by feeding them fake pages to make their malicious content seem legitimate, thus tricking users to visiting their malicious site that may be hosting malicious content to infect computers with malware.  The newer the event or content, the more susceptible it is to the BH-SEO techniques, while older content are less susceptible.

What can you do to keep safe?

  • As always, make sure you have an anti-virus/malware application installed and updated on your computer.
  • Try to reside on reputable sources to view content.
  • Do not blindly trust search results; examine the title and content before actually accessing the website.
  • If you get redirected to an unexpected site or obtain a “click here for a free security scan” page, or to take a survey page, or even to a “download this codec program to view the video” DO NOT do it and exit the site.

 

References

Boswell, W. (2011). Black Hat Search Engine Optimization: What is Black Hat SEO? Retrieved from: http://websearch.about.com/od/seononos/a/spamseo.htm

 

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