Threat Management, Network Security

Spam and eggs: Red Hen restaurant’s website apparently injected with SEO spam links

The website for the restaurant that recently refused to host White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was found unknowingly hosting hidden code linking to ads for Viagra and other pharmaceuticals.

In a June 27 blog post, Malwarebytes reported its discovery that The Red Hen, a farm-to-table fine dining restaurant in Lexington, Virg., may have been the victim of Search Engine Optimization poisoning, or spamdexing.

Blog post author and Lead Malware Intelligence Analyst Christopher Boyd notes that the WordPress site's HTML code appears to have been injected with spam text that gives the advertised drug sites an SEO boost. Such a tactic would be especially effective in this case, considering that the controversial restaurant's site traffic likely increased dramatically since June 23, when Sanders tweeted that the establishment declined to serve her, in light of her politics.

“Injecting redirection code to Viagra spam portals on a site currently at the heart of U.S.-centric news is a dream come true for hackers, and they'll no doubt be hoping to capitalize on an inevitable traffic boost to the restaurant's website,” said Boyd in separate comments printed in a Newsweek article.

Additionally, as of Thursday, site visitors clicking on certain links on the Red Hen website were redirected to pages featuring cars and Japanese text.

In his blog post, Boyd speculates that scammers could have possibly injected the code by targeting a WordPress exploit, gaining access to default admin credentials, or successfully executing a phishing scheme.

Bradley Barth

As director of multimedia content strategy at CyberRisk Alliance, Bradley Barth develops content for online conferences, webcasts, podcasts video/multimedia projects — often serving as moderator or host. For nearly six years, he wrote and reported for SC Media as deputy editor and, before that, senior reporter. He was previously a program executive with the tech-focused PR firm Voxus. Past journalistic experience includes stints as business editor at Executive Technology, a staff writer at New York Sportscene and a freelance journalist covering travel and entertainment. In his spare time, Bradley also writes screenplays.

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.