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Cybercriminals Use Google Doodle Interest To Spread Malware

On Tuesday, Google visitors were greeted by a very questionable search results page when they clicked on the Doodle art work honoring Esperanto creator L. L. Zamenhof that was displayed on the search engine's homepage.

The search results consisted of several links to dubious websites which contained malicious advertisements or fake antivirus software, all situated near the top of the page.

This is the most recent case of exploitation of Google search results by flooding them with hacked websites which contain popular keywords according to Google’s Trends section. The search engine, upon detecting the keywords automatically records them in its database.

According to Dave Michmerhuizen of Barracuda labs, some of the websites listed in the search results which appeared as legitimate, were apparently hacked into by hackers who steal FTP login credentials of the website and insert their own codes in them.

Several users reported that the search results lead them to pages which contained spam advertisements and websites which offered a free virus scan before asking them to shell out money for fake anti virus software.

The Doodle, which contained the Esperanto flag, was posted by Google to mark the 150th birthday of L. L. Zamenhof, who created the Esperanto language with a vision to make it a universally spoken language.

Our Comments

It is absolutely surprising how these dodgy websites systematically manage to come near the top of results on strategic keywords like download windows 7 or any popular term as defined by Google's trending service. Even more surprising is how Google fails to detect and eradicate those rogue agents.

Related Links

LL Zamenhof, Esperanto inventor on Google Doodle (opens in new tab)

(Meri News)

L.L. Zamenhof: Who He Was, Why He's on Google (opens in new tab)

(Nat Geo)

Google Celebrates L.L. Zamenhof’s Birthday (opens in new tab)

(Eric Tric)

THE NEWSMAKER (opens in new tab)

(Chicagotribune)

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.