Caution: Web sites about the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team and the U.S. vice presidential debate may cause serious harm to your computer.
Cybercriminals who want to steal data and take control of computers are doing so by luring victims to sites with hidden malware. But how do they attract unsuspecting victims?
The answer: Google Trends.
This makes a lot of sense. Google Trends lists the most frequently searched topics, displays them on a graph, and shows news articles and blog posts that relate to that topic. (Google has trend-type tools for Web site owners and advertisers, too.)
So, a would-be cybercriminal could see what's hot on Google Trends; add related news headlines, stories, and video to a malicious Web site to increase the site's ranking on Google's search site; and wait for the traffic to arrive. And it's happening now, according to a threat advisory issued by security company Webroot.
But not all of the hot searches are going to be able to be automatically translated into buzzworthy sites. For instance, the top search on Thursday was "london telegraph," followed by "tampa bay rays;" "palin bingo" (game containing buzzwords related to Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin); "evan longoria" (Tampa Bay Ray third baseman); and "vice presidential debate time" (happening on Thursday night at 6 p.m. PDT, which I myself had also searched for).
Interestingly, one of the blog sites listed under "london telegraph" on Google Trends was a site that not only had an abstract of a London Telegraph column about the state of the global banking system, but also had abstracts from items about all of the other topics listed at the top of the Google Trends site. Hmmm.