What is the Most Common Goal of Search Engine Optimization Poisoning? 

Using search engine optimization (SEO), a malicious website will increase its ranking and push it higher up on the results page of a search engine. The goal is to drive traffic to the site and install malware. The technique is a type of black hat SEO. 

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According to cybersecurity vendor Zscaler, there has been an uptick in SEO poisoning attacks. In particular, this attack was observed during the SolarMarker campaign. The campaign was based on the Formidable Forms WordPress plugin, and was carried out by hackers who exploited a vulnerability. When users visited the site, the malicious PDF was downloaded and installed onto their system. The PDFs were also hosted on domains belonging to well-known educational institutions and government sites. 

The goal of the attack is to gain access to personal data. For example, the attacker could steal credentials or spam the victim’s system with incompatible software. In addition, web-based malware could launch denial-of-service attacks. Moreover, the malware could take control of the victim’s system. The malware would then send information back to the hacker. 

The attack targets public websites of online retailers. The hacker will then inject keywords into the compromised websites to boost their rankings. These keywords are often associated with popular topics. For example, popular keywords include viral videos, holidays, and news items. The threat actor will then send a small percentage of visitors to the poisoned website. 

Another common tactic used for SEO poisoning is cloaking. Cloaking is a technique of hiding the actual address of a website, and it is often used to shorten URLs. In addition, the attacker can flood the website with hundreds of keywords. The keywords make the site appear to be informative, and can push it to the top of the search results. 

Some malicious sites are used as a delivery platform for drive-by downloads. This means that uninformed users might navigate to the site and download the malware without realizing it. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the risk of the attack. These include installing antivirus software, keeping your PC updated, and examining your search results carefully. 

During a search, you may receive a pop-up window. The pop-up may appear to be an update for your antivirus program, or it might contain spyware. You should read the pop-up carefully before clicking on it. Be sure to activate your browser’s security settings. You should also look at the URLs of the search results. If the URL is not in the list of recommended domains, avoid the site. 

The New Jersey Computer Crimes Investigative Commission warns users against visiting unofficial websites that request sensitive personal information. These groups mimic legitimate websites and try to trick users into visiting them. They also damage the reputation of legitimate websites. 

The attackers usually begin by targeting keywords that are of interest to the user. They can also use data encryption to ensure the confidentiality of the information. In some cases, the attackers will target financial queries or banking inquiries.