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Weekly Intelligence Summary 4 December

December 4, 2020

A threat actor recently hijacked a vulnerable WordPress website set up by a security researcher, infecting the site to conduct a search engine optimization (SEO) attack in a potentially large-scale campaign. SEO attacks cause significant damage to a website’s operations by redirecting visitor traffic. In this case, the threat actor used brute-force cracking to access the researcher’s honeypot decoy site, then deployed malware that would redirect site visitors to any of 7,000 scam and e-commerce websites selling counterfeit products. The researcher also sounded the alarm on SEO extortion attacks, which coerce websites’ owners into paying ransom fees to reverse the damage to their search-engine rankings. SEO attacks, and extortion-based attacks in particular, place e-commerce stores at a high risk as the COVID-19 pandemic pushes holiday-season shoppers online: Fewer visitors means lost revenue.

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