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How to Deal With Manipulated Search Results (Video)

As part of the discussion, Smith related a situation that involved a high-profile client. “One of our clients, a fairly well-known organization that everyone in this room probably knows, had a compromise on their website. The reason for the compromise was that the search engines ranked this website very highly. It's a very highly well-known, highly regarded organization. Getting a link to your website, which is trying to peddle online pharmacy-type things or other kind of shady goods would be a huge boost to get your search ranks up,” he said. “Their website was compromised and thousands and thousands of links hid and scattered throughout the entire organization website just to get that Google search rank algorithm to bump their results up.” 

Many people have probably encountered this in their own lives, where they do a Google search and land on some site and then are really trying to understand why did they got there, said Smith. “You clicked the link to that site but there was a piece of malicious code on that site that said, ‘Oh, you searched for such and such and you came from Google, I'm actually going to silently redirect you,’ and you get one of the most common things we see today. You'll get a pop-up that says, ‘Your computer is infected with a virus, call this telephone number and somebody from Microsoft will help you.’ That's how that happens.” 

Actually, said Smith, it can be a lot of fun too knowing it's not Microsoft, by the way. “We did a presentation where we did that as a proof of concept for a client to show, ‘This is what's going on out there.’ It's really kind of interesting to see that. Follow the money, so in that example they're making their money by getting your credit card number when you call them so that they can fix your computer and their marketing approach is to go and compromise other legitimate websites to drive traffic to sites that they've already infected with that pop-up. “There's an entire industry, and what's really interesting is that when you call those guys, if you listen, there's an entire call center going on in the background. This isn't one person in their basement. There's an entire industry set up that is driven in large part on manipulating search results.”

View the video.

Learn more at Enterprise Search & Discovery 2019, coming to Washington, DC, Nov. 5-7. 

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