Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaigns are prevalent and legitimate ways to promote web applications in order to get a better visibility and more traffic to your web application. But what happens when an SEO campaign crosses the line into the dark side and becomes malicious?
Recently the Akamai Threat Research Team discovered a highly sophisticated SEO attack campaign that was promoting the search results rating for a web application that allows users to share their cheating and infidelity stories.
The complexity of this attack campaign included defacement of hundreds of web applications across the Internet by abusing vulnerable Windows web servers and injecting HTML links - using an SQL injection technique. By injecting reference links between the defaced applications to the "cheating stories" application, the attackers tried to mimic normal distribution of content over the web. Once the injected content is placed, the attacker counts on the scanning that search engines perform to determine what should be the best results for any given keywords. As a result, the rating of the "cheating stories" application will be calculated based on the quality and quantity of those links.
This article reveals the details and findings of the targeted SEO attack, including the end result: The "cheating stories" application being highly ranked by the leading search engines.
Continue reading on the security ledger - https://securityledger.com/2015/08/the-real-story-behind-cheating-stories-blackhat-seo/