Spammers are using thousands of Google Groups to spread unwanted email and malware.
In a blog post, the anti-spam company MailChannels reported that the spammers sign up for Gmail accounts, then create new groups, usually with random-looking names. The spammers use the Gmail accounts to send keyword-rich posts to the fake group. These posts include a link to a URL that either directs the user to a to phishing scam or to a malware executable.
“We were able to find thousands of Google Groups that were created for the purpose of forming posts that people would stumble upon when looking for common keywords,” Ken Simpson, CEO of MailChannels, told SCMagazineUS.com on Monday.
Simpson stressed that users don't have to join the Google Group to be hit by the infected posts. The posts come up during a search within Google Groups -- not during a typical Google search.
One such search string is “Verizon bill pay online,” Simpson said.
“Users think they are getting a post that explains how to pay their bill online, and they click on the link," he said.
In his example, the URL took the user to a drug store website. Other links directed users to malware.
“What the spammers are doing is exploiting temporary weaknesses in the algorithm Google Groups uses to find results,” Simpson said. “Google's search engine is great for weeding out spam. Google Groups is a closed environment and there isn't enough information from internet users to know which groups are significant and which are spam.”
Google said it knows about the problem.
“Google takes the security of our users very seriously,” a Google spokesperson told SCMagazineUS.com, “and we actively work to detect and remove sites that link to malware. We are aware of this particular issue and are working now to resolve it.”