Atlanta Businesses Websites Under Attack From SEO Poisoning
As organizations continue to embrace remote workplaces, hackers are now targeting web browsers to spread malware. They are inventing new techniques to lure internet users into visiting malicious sites, only to corrupt their devices and files. Among the various tools hackers use is SEO poisoning, a technique that easily makes unsuspecting users fall prey. To prevent data loss due to SEO poisoning, it is important to ensure that your business’s cyber security is optimized. But what exactly is SEO poisoning?
Here is what you need to know about SEO poisoning.
What Is SEO Poisoning?
SEO poisoning is a technique that hackers use to make malicious web content rank above legitimate web content. As a result, search engines will place the poisoned content among the top search results, making internet users vulnerable to content that can spread malware.
To achieve this, hackers create sites and malicious PDF documents that resemble popular and genuine websites as well as PDF documents. According to research done by Menlo Security, most of the malicious PDF documents are hosted on WordPress sites, with popular government and educational websites being the major targets.
In addition, users may receive messages warning them of possible malware attacks and are prompted to download malicious antivirus software. If the users fall prey, their devices are automatically infected, and their files are corrupted.
Types of SEO Poisoning
The major type of SEO poisoning targeting WordPress Sites are two popular online campaigns dubbed the SolarMaker and the Gootloader. These campaigns seem to target popular sites, making unsuspecting users fall prey, and their success rate is equally high.
With the SolarMaker Campaign, hackers use keywords that users commonly use while searching for information from online sources. Often, hackers will use keyword stuffing, and insert as many keywords as possible to make their malicious content rank higher on search engines.
However, these keywords may be hidden, but will often lead to malicious sites that contain malware intended to infect users’ devices and corrupt their files. As you search for information, the malware tends to rank the poisoned sites above genuine sites, making you click on such sites.
Once you click on the poisoned link, you are redirected to a compromised site that hosts the document containing the malware. If you download the PDF document, a malicious payload will automatically be downloaded onto your device, thereby infecting your device. Your stored files will also be at risk of being attacked and corrupted, leading to data loss.
The Gootloader campaign, on the other hand, infects devices and files with ransomware known as REvil that targets sensitive data and information from financial institutions, government agencies, and investment companies through compromised websites.
How Does SEO Poisoning Work?
Hackers often use Formidable Forms, a WordPress plug-in that allows administrators to create forms, to upload infected PDF documents into the wp-content/uploads/formidable/ folder. With malicious content being presented as legitimate web content and PDF documents, users are less likely to question sites they trust. Such users will tend to click on downloads and other links found on certain sites without doing further research, and hackers are capitalizing on such ignorance.
Most of these poisoned PDF documents require users to download in order to view the content. Unsuspecting users will download the PDFs containing the malware, which then redirects them to the poisoned WordPress sites. Hackers then infect users’ devices and files with malware that corrupts stored files, after which they demand an exorbitant fee to allow users to regain access to the corrupted files.
How to Safeguard Your Company and User Data from SEO Poisoning
Even with the increase in cybercrimes and cybersecurity breaches, your business data and information can be protected. There are various techniques you can employ to ensure that your business IT infrastructure and user data are safe, as discussed below:
Use Updated Anti-Virus
With updated antivirus software, your end-user security is maintained. The antivirus software will automatically detect and block malicious content even before users can download such content. As a result, your IT security is optimized making it safe for your business to operate even amidst cybersecurity threats.
Secure Your Web Servers
To ensure that your files are safe, always secure your web servers, while also closely monitoring any suspicious links and PDF documents. With managed IT infrastructure services, you not only get to monitor your overall IT infrastructure but also enjoy reliable security and support for your business environment.
You can also consult an IT firm to manage your IT infrastructure, as you manage other equally important business activities. You may also consider using a web vulnerability scanner to check the status of your websites and other user applications.
Have a Reliable Cloud Backup
In addition, you can have a secure cloud backup and data recovery platform to help minimize the risks associated with loss of data through malicious activities that often corrupt files, and also lead to hardware and software failure. With cloud backup, you can also prevent data loss usually perpetrated by hackers.
Train Your Employees
Employee training is important as it helps users identify malicious activities that are aimed at exposing your business data to hackers. Employees will be well informed on what to look for before clicking on any links or downloads.
Block Downloads From Unknown Sources
It is also recommended that you block unwanted downloads from unverified and unknown sites. This prevents users from downloading such files either knowingly or unknowingly, thus making your entire IT infrastructure safe.
As the world embraces remote workstations, overall IT security should never be ignored. Businesses and other organizations should ensure that their websites and devices used are safeguarded from SEO poisoning. Such practices not only prevent data loss through malicious links and downloads but also make your business IT infrastructure safe from activities that may corrupt files and also compromise hardware and software.
At 360 Smart Networks, a team of qualified and experienced IT experts will provide top-notch IT services that your business needs to remain secure. With our managed IT infrastructure services, your business security will be monitored across the board to ensure that your digital assets as well as sensitive business data and information are safe at all times. For more information, contact us today or schedule a free consultation with our skilled IT experts to learn more.