London Olympics search led to objectionable content, claim researchers

In an official post on WebSense Security Labs' blog titled London Olympics Search Results Lead to Objectionable Sites, it was revealed that when they started using Russian search terms on Google, pertaining to the recent Olympics, a rather ugly picture came up. They used the Russian translation for "watch 2012 Olympics online", did a Google search and hit the second item in the listing. It was found that although the domain was listed as sports, some objectionable content appeared in the ads. 


Websense researchers conducted yet another investigation and this time, they analysed Twitter traffic pertaining to popular Olympics-related terms, events and athletes. This was two days before the opening ceremony. On the day the games opened, the researchers saw the traffic hitting a high point, and when Olympians Tom Daley, Michael Phelps, Ruta Meilutyte, and Maria Sharapova topped the Google trends, they observed the data more keenly and found that few Twitter feeds from some athletes and teams had shortened URLs, which redirected the user to "Objectionable" or "Security" categories - and these included malicious website and malicious embedded link. The researchers then took a sample set comprising 3600 of these shortened URLs; they unshortened them and analyzed them. 


41 percent of analyzed data fell under Potentially Damaging Content



This way, it was found that 41 percent of it was classified under Potentially Damaging Content, 31 percent was categorized under Adult Material. Another 9 percent was classified under Gambling. Other categories featuring in this list include Phishing and Other frauds, Malicious websites, Hacking, among others.  


In one of their earlier blog posts, researchers had detailed on Nigerian email scam (also known as the 419 scam, a reference to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code that such activities violate). They (Nigerian email scam) are by now so common that they should ideally be identifiable on first look. Yet, they continue to dupe unsuspecting people into financial losses amounting to millions of dollars - disrupting their lives. Examples of such scam e-mails are countless; so much so that it has retained its place on the list of top ten internet/email scams for 2012.  Some published examples can be found on Websense Security Labs' newly published blog, titled - "You may be  surprise too receive this letterfrom me…"


Instead of being more believable to be able to dupe people, as one would come to expect of such scam e-mails, a recent research by Microsoft found that having an e-mail full of misspelt words, grammar errors actually work in their favour. It found that, "Although it may appear counter-intuitive, it seems that the more implausible the bait, the better the chances the scammer has of actually collecting some money." To put forth an example, the post cites a particular e-mail, which is quite ironic in its disposition. The e-mail was a typical Nigerian e-mail scam attempt and infact, it even contained a thing or two about how you should 'stop dealing with those people that are contacting you and telling you that your fund is with them, it is not in anyway with them,' and how 'they are only taking advantage of you and they will dry you up until you have nothing.'


Cover Image credit: Getty Images

Published Date: Aug 16, 2012 06:30 pm | Updated Date: Aug 16, 2012 06:30 pm