Microsoft has disabled the search results on its Security Centre after malware-spreaders abused the function to promote shady pornographic websites serving Trojans as well as cheap thrills.
Only the Security Section of Microsoft's website was affected by the search-engine poisoning attack. Such attacks are often used to place scareware portals and the like high in the index of searches for terms in the news, such as royal weddings, celebrity deaths and natural disasters.
In the case of the Microsoft security search results, only searches for a limited range of terms return links to dodgy sites. These search terms include "porn" or "streaming" (a much more plausible search term for someone visiting the centre and presumably looking for security-related information rather than cheap thrills). Many of these sites are serving up malware as well as smut, net security firm GFI Software warns.
"Since only specific terms are used, if you search using a different term, say 'united nations', you'll get real, normal results," explains Alex Eckelberry of GFI Software.
"In other words, blackhat SEOs are seeding illegitimate search results within the Microsoft search results. Pretty tricky and impressive. There are a number of ways this could be done (for example, using the ability on the site to Twitter a search result)."
In an update, Eckelberry added that Microsoft has temporarily disabled the search feature on its Security Centre, presumably while it cleans out its search index. ®