Click Fraud Update: How Billions of Bogus Pages Undermined Search Engines

Over the weekend, Monetize, a blog dedicated to tricking search engines, described how a blackhat got Google to index over 5 billion webpages within three weeks.

Yahoo and MSN were fooled, too, though nowhere near as badly. (MSN, for example, indexed just 62 pages before cutting him off.)

The effort seems to have met some success. Third-party traffic monitor Alexa noticed enough activity to rank at least one of the rogue sites among the 2,000 highest traffic sites on the web. That’s a phenomenal ranking for any site, especially a three week old site based in Romania.

According to Ana’s Lair, the search spoofing project was really fairly simple. In the end, the scheme required an SQL-driven auto-page generator, a modification of DNS software, and redirection/cloaking code to show Google one thing and the user something else.

Importantly, the bogus pages also enjoyed links from websites with a reasonable Google Page Rank (like “5”). This in turn, elevated the pages in search engine results.

As the blackhat considered all other avenues deliberately, I’m guessing that an automatic PPC ad clicker was part of the scheme, too.

Suddenly it all makes sense.

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