Google Secure Search shuts out SEO scammers
Google has started securing its search with a twofold process that can potentially shut out scammers who rely on search engine optimization (SEO) to lure victims to their sites.
Computer security firm Trend Micro said Google's new search process effectively keeps SEO scammers in the dark on what search terms are popular.
"(B)lackhat SEO sites won’t be able to access those stats either. It’s very useful for them to know what search term they have successfully hijacked. This is bad for them also for statistical purposes. When these sites receive visits from search engine visitors, they will have no idea what search sent them there. They won’t have a clear idea which search terms work and which don’t, so they are essentially in the dark," it said.
On the other hand, it noted this may also hamper legitimate web sites from identifying what terms they use are popular - and they may have to sign up for Google’s own analytics services, "which may or may not be feasible for all websites."
Earlier, Google said it is making search more secure for its users by making sure signed-in users' searches go through Secure HTTP (HTTPS).
But Trend Micro noted the second part of the securing process was that Google does not include the search terms used to reach websites in the HTTP referrer header.
Still, such exclusion of search terms can have a lot of impact on the effectiveness of blackhat SEOs' poisoning activities, Trend Micro said.
"This is, of course, good for Google as their search lists are cleaner but it’s also good for all users because they’ll be less likely to click on bad links from Google," it said.
But Trend Micro added this only happens when users are already logged in to Google’s services.
"Given how many people already use Google Mail and Google+, this may not be such a big obstacle – but it still poses one. If people keep using regular no-padlock HTTP searches, they will keep disclosing their search terms and keeping things unchanged. The more people use HTTPS, the less information we’re giving the bad guys so there you have it: now you have one more reason to use secure connections to do your web searching," it said. — TJD, GMA News
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