Royal Wedding Brings Out the Cyber Criminals

Chris CrumSearchNews

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Cyber criminals are exploiting the world's fascination with the British Royal Wedding, which is taking place on Friday. They're using the attention the event is getting to bolster spam campaigns and push rogue antivirus software through black hat search tactics, according to security firm Symantec.

"As with any major event, criminals have been quick to take advantage of the online attention," a Symantec representative tells WebProNews.

Among the threats is a spam email campaign, which advertises a replica of Princess Diana's engagement ring. This has been going around since February.

"Furthermore, as we had anticipated, we have recently observed additional spam campaigns making use of this significant event to promote various products," said Symatec's Suyog Sainkar. "In one such recent spam campaign, email promoting a 'limited edition Buckingham Mint Royal Wedding Commemorative Coin' at a discounted rate is being observed."

Royal Wedding Spam Email

As noted, the threats don't stop at email. All kinds of search terms related to Prince William, Kate Middleton, and the royal wedding are being searched for by interested Internet users. This has been quite clear, looking at Google Trends from day to day.

Fake pages are being set up to rank for terms that people are searching for. "At one point, a search for 'william and kate movie imdb' returned 61 malicious links in the first 100 search results," said Sainkar. "Fifty-eight of the first 100 results for the search term 'princess diana death photos' and 45 of the first 100 results for the search term 'royal wedding guest list kanye' also led to malicious sites."

Royal Wedding search spam

Other search terms, Symantec says have been commonly turning up "poisoned links" include: "william and kate movie cast," "prince charles age," "princess diana death facts," "prince harry last name," "william and kate movie on lifetime," "royal wedding guest list bush," "royal wedding guest list snubs," "prince charles siblings," and "the royal wedding date and time".

"We have seen over 500 compromised sites being used in this campaign over the past few days," said Sainkar. "Attackers create multiple fake pages on each site and use unethical SEO techniques—such as keyword stuffing, cloaking, and link farming—to "game" the search engine algorithms to achieve high search engine rankings."

According to a Norton survey, 62% of Americans are likely to follow the British Royal Wedding.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.