By Elinor Mills
October 2, 2008
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).
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