Search engine optimization works with algorithms to ensure that the most relevant and most popular web pages show up first in an internet search. SEO makes sure that the best websites get the biggest boost. Although, there is a thing called black hat SEO. This is a common trick of cybercriminals. Black hat SEO is meant to exploit weaknesses and create fraudulent links. The goal of these actions is to push malicious websites to unexpected users. Hackers want to catch users off guard when they are browsing the internet. They want you to click on their links and download their files so they can install malware, ransomware, or other viruses on your computer. One way they can achieve this is by piggybacking off the popularity of well-established websites. Let’s now discuss the different ways cybercriminals hijack search engines:
Changed URLs – This method allows hackers to create URLs that look similar to legitimate websites when shown on search engines. This is achieved because the first part of the link is identical to the safe and well-known website, but the link’s back end is what redirects the URL to a dangerous page. The hypertext link in a phishing email or a URL may include the name of a legitimate company. But when you hover the mouse over the link or look at all the characters in the URL, you may discover in a small pop-up window that the actual URL differs from the one displayed and doesn’t contain the brand’s name.
Clickbait – Some clickbait now serves as a link to malicious websites. These sites contain malicious code, including Ransomware, viruses, and Trojans. One major red flag is when clickbait asks for permission to access personal data. Setting up VLANs on your network can also give your company network extra protection. If an employee does end up clicking on a malicious link, it won’t get very far. The VLANs will prevent the virus or malware from spreading to the entire company, and will minimize the threats.
Stealing SEO – SEO optimization is used by marketers to increase their website’s exposure on search engines such as Google or Bing. Some websites allow users to post comments or upload files on their webpage. Hackers can post a link to their malware or upload a file that contains a virus on a popular website. Hackers know that the website has a large audience, so chances are someone will click on it. Making security checks a part of your SEO strategy will help lower cyber security attacks.
There are many different cyber security examples when it comes to search engines, but a very important one is bank fraud. Some of the most common ways cybercriminals try to get access to your banking information are through texts or online activity, fake URLs, and phishing emails. They tend to use a language that creates a sense of urgency in order to get you to react without even thinking. Some examples:
- Urgently requires you to enter personal information from a link
- Claims that your account has been compromised or there has been fraudulent activity and requests you to log in to verify
- Intimidates you by threatening to close your account if you do not provide or verify personal information
- Claims the bank has lost important security information and needs you to update immediately
Usually, banks and other legitimate businesses don’t ask their customers for personal information online. If you have a checking account, your bank already knows your account information. In the last year, attacks are becoming more personalized and tricky to detect. You may even find your personal information in the subject line of an email. Make sure both you and your employees understand these specific examples of cyber attacks when it comes to URLs, phishing emails, and what to do if they come in contact with one.