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Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

How Safe is Your Search?

Roughly 4 percent of all search results display links to potentially dangerous websites, according to a report published by McAfee’s SiteAdvisor, on Monday. The report notes that Yahoo results are the riskiest with AOL leading the pack as having the safest results.

Over the past year, both organic and sponsored links have seen an increase in safety, however, the biggest change is seen within sponsored listings. On average the number of risky links declined from 8.5% in May 2006, to 6.9% in May of this year. Organic results saw a drop from 3.1% down to 2.9%. Read more…

An AdWords Exploit has been put to rest recently by Google after scammers running “smarttrack.org” attempted to capture users banking details and other private information.

At Inside Adwords, the official AdWords Blog, a post was noted late last month regarding the problem. Read more…

In a move that has been long in coming Google has chosen to provide a safer environment for its patrons by blocking access to sites that appear to have malicious code.

The genius, in my opinion, is they are not blocking the sites from appearing but offering a warning under the title of a ‘harmful’ listing. The site may even appear number one and two as in the case of the search phrase “beautiful free screensaver” where the top 2 listings from the same site have the “this site may harm your computer” warning listed below the title. Read more…

Yesterday Google’s official webmaster blog announced that Googlebombing will be soon a way of the past thanks to some targeted attention from the search results team. Here is the gist of the posting:

We wanted to give a quick update about “Googlebombs.” By improving our analysis of the link structure of the web, Google has begun minimizing the impact of many Googlebombs. Now we will typically return commentary, discussions, and articles about the Googlebombs instead. The actual scale of this change is pretty small (there are under a hundred well-known Googlebombs), but if you’d like to get more details about this topic, read on.

Ultimately they admit these algorithm changes will not catch every Googlebomb but they expect the changes will clear out the majority.

What is a Google Bomb?

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Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Google Germany Hijacked?

According to IBN live, German online news service, Heise, reported an unfinished website belonging to a client of a small hosting company, Goneo, in Western Germany “crashed quickly after an avalanche of Web surfers”.

It seems another Goneo client had used an automated ordering process to gain control of the Google.de domain Monday evening resulting in the redirect of searchers. Google.de was redirected for around 12 hours before the issue was resolved.

Goneo’s chief executive, Marc Keilwerth, apologized and said all applications in the future would be checked.

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Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Hacker Sentenced Cinched by Searches

According to ZDNet, something interesting has occurred. A hacker taping into wireless internet connections and disrupting service has been sentenced to 15 months in prison, nearly $20,000 in restitution, and 3 years of supervised released. What makes this story interesting is the actual nail in his coffin so to speak. Read more…

WebmasterRadio.FM has released a fascinating, if not alarming, story series based on the issues of click fraud and terrorist fund raising that is sure to be the subject of many water cooler sessions. As the story unfolds we will know more but here is a snippet that describes the concerns/accusations against the pay per click industry:

“The series starts with an interview with Clarence Briggs, CEO of hosting firm AIT.com. Mr. Briggs was a lead proponent in one of the class action lawsuits Google settled in the spring of 2006. Because the case was settled out of court, Google was never forced to show how they charge for some clicks and dismiss others as invalid. Mr. Briggs maintains Google is doing business as usual, just as they did before the class actions were initiated.

“During the interview, Mr. Briggs noted the use of click fraud by criminal and terrorist organizations. Our investigation has found several incidents of this type of activity. We have also found evidence of bot-nets used to facilitate click fraud, primarily against Google advertisers.” (source, WebmasterRadio.FM – linked here)

Jim Hedger, a past writer at StepForth and a good friend is one of the leaders of this investigation so I am sure to get notified as soon as more information is released – at which time I will post a follow up ASAP.

In a recent interview with Matt Cutts (a popular software engineer from Google that handles Spam) on WebmasterRadio Matt noted that Google has run across a few sites that had been hacked and in a manner that wasn’t immediately apparent to the site owners. Jim Hedger wrote an article which summed up the entire interview and I highly recommend the read. For the purposes of this posting, however, I want to focus on how to determine whether your site has been hacked. Read more…

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Thursday, August 31st, 2006

Search Engine SPAM Strikes Again

We were recently contacted by a client who had found a number of occurrences of search engine SPAM. What made this SPAM a problem is that they were targeting the clients business name and coming up in some of the top 10 rankings! The pages were littered with the company name, and appeared to have been created by a bot (which the majority of SPAM pages are).

The question we were presented with was: “These sites keep popping up, they are blatantly using our company name as an SEO landing page, do i have any recourse?” Read more…

They say it started in the autumn of 2004 in an online chat room. It ended on Saturday with the arrest of twelve adults and five minors by police and security services across southern Ontario. In a massive show of brute force and imaginative investigative cooperation between law enforcement agencies, Canadian security officials shut down a homegrown group of terrorists allegedly planning one or more attacks similar to the one that destroyed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City eleven years ago.

Information beyond the names and addresses of those arrested is obviously difficult to obtain at this time though media speculations suggests one of the intended targets was the office complex beside the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the location of the annual Toronto Search Engine Strategies Conference, which houses the Toronto branch of CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). Read more…