A new hack allows cyber crooks to abuse the featured snippets in Google Search results. Online users and exposed to risk of online scam and CryptMIC ransomware infection. Security researchers have reported the issue and the impacts of it to the team of Google.
What Exactly Are Featured Snippets in Google Search Results?
Featured snippets appear at the top of the search results page when the user searches for a particular query. In some cases, Google programmatically determines when a page contains the information for the entered query and a featured snippet block with summarized answer derived from the page is displayed. The snippet also includes a link to the page, the title of the page and the URL. Generally, the sources in the featured snippets lead to trusted sites like Wikipedia but in some cases, the links are to personal blogs or news sites.
The Abuse of Featured Snippets
Security researchers have discovered that cybercrooks successfully abused some of the links in the featured snippets. The malicious campaigns aim to display links to compromised websites. Thus landing on these sites may cause redirects to online scams. To make the matters worse visiting some of the compromised sites can result in a download of Neutrino exploit kit which in turn infects the system with CryptMIC ransomware.
The cyber crooks’ idea to hack websites usually comes down to monetary gain. So the prominent placement of the featured snippets is very tempting bite for them. Once they successfully abuse the snippet results, then they can take a significant amount of traffic and redirect it to any other website they want.
The Consequences of Abused Featured Snippets
A Hungarian sports site is programmatically chosen by Google algorithm to appear in featured snippets. Unfortunately, it is one of the compromised websites. The snippet redirects to cheapmicrosoftkey(.)com. Here we come to the online scam as this website offers license keys for different Microsoft products at reduced costs. It’s highly advisable to avoid purchases from such untrusted online shops. Beware and stay away from deals that sound too good to be true.
On the other hand a visit to the Hungarian website results in a redirect to Neutrino exploit kit that infects the system with CrypMIC ransomware.
One weird thing with the abused featured snippets issue is that when queries related to office topics are entered the sports-related portal appears as a source of the best answer in a featured snippet. And here comes the double trouble for Google’s specialists.
Here is a list of other detections of websites that may lead to online scams or malware infections: