Google has taken down a number of web pages which security researchers believe were manipulating the search engine to assist in malware attacks.
McAfee senior threat researcher Craig Schmugar reported that, by late Friday evening US time, the company had recorded a major drop-off in the number of malicious web pages showing up in queries of popular search terms on Google Trends.
Schmugar said last week that malware writers appeared to be searching the Google Trends site for the most popular search terms, then crafting text on malicious web pages so that they rank highly when users search for those terms.
As a result, many of the most popular search queries on Google were leading to pages which put users at risk of malware infection.
By early Saturday morning UK time, however, the number of infected search returns had all but disappeared.
"It appears that Google may have squashed those attacks, at least at the moment," Schmugar wrote in the McAfee Avert Labs blog. "The pages that were coming up while searching Google seem to be purged from Google's index."
A Google spokesperson confirmed that the offending pages had indeed been removed from the index.
"Many of these results have been removed from our index. However, this issue affects more than just Google as these sites are still part of the general web, " the spokesperson said.
"We will continue to monitor for these bad results and will remove any as necessary. We are always exploring new ways to identify and eliminate malicious sites from our index."
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