Websites covering the Olympics and related services have had some fierce competition from hackers and other users of black hat search engine optimisation (SEO) tactics but it appears that the approach of the troublemakers is starting to change.
To begin with it was obvious popular search terms that were being targeted by poisoned SEO campaigns: The big-name athletes like Bradley Wiggins or Jessica Ennis, or simple terms like 'London 2012 Olympics'.
However, according to Dave Ewart, director of product marketing EMEA at Blue Coat, black hat hackers are changing their tactics to target lesser-known athletes and events.
Speaking to SC Magazine, he observed that SEO poisoning remains the top tactic for spreading malware but that the approach has been changed as it was becoming less effective. By targeting less competitive terms, the hackers seem to have a higher chance of getting hits.
Mr Ewart remarked: “They are hitting a lot more mundane search results and for celebrity searches, they hit more B-listers. This makes sense, as if there is something big happening to an A-lister then it would have less of an impact.”
He added that this isn't just the case with the Olympics and that the trend has been observed before: “From the research we did, when Steve Jobs died, two per cent of the search results were malicious and when Whitney Houston died in February of this year, the poisoned results began on page 15 of a Google search, so increasingly it is where people are not looking.
“There is no real pattern emerging, but there is a bigger set of search terms around mundane things.”
For those websites looking to offer something genuine to their visitors, trends such as these make it particularly important to keep on top of SEO campaigns. Ensure your website has the most to offer visitors in terms of fresh content and insights into developments in your area of business.