Google Alerts is a helpful service that enables you to obtain messages or an updated RSS feed when fresh Google search pages appear that relate to certain keywords. Sadly, when something is nice, individuals attempt to use it to drive customers into scams and malware.
Google Alerts enables you to submit keywords that you do not know about this service. If fresh websites suit these keywords, Google will send you an email or update an RSS feed depending on how you build your alert.
For many years, I have been using Google Alerts to monitor multiple malware and safety issues. I observed a trend over the previous year, if not more, when poor performers inject malicious locations into the Google Search Index to also appear in Google Alerts.
If a customer clicks one of those alerts, they are then sent to a website where they are redirected via a number of other websites until they end up with a fake gift page, tech supports scam, unwanted expansion or malware installer.
Google Alert Spam Anatomy
Bad actors produce spam pages with common keywords to get malicious connections in Google Alerts and get them into the Google Search box.
For instance, as we publish a lot of ransomware news, I have a Ransomware Google Alert setup. Knowing that users are hopeless for decrypters, the wrong performers make fake spam pages containing text blocks which contain keywords that might affect many people at the moment.
You can look at one of these spammy websites below which pretends to talk about a STOP DJvu Ransomware Kaspersky decryptor. This website is shown to consumers when navigating straight to the URL of the page.
Spam page created to promote a decryptor
When the wrong players generate these pages, and get them in the Google folder, an alert is produced for anyone who wishes ransomware, decrypters or ransomware notifications.
Google Alerts for ransomware decryptors
When a user clicks on a link via a Google Alert or a Google search engine, they are redireited to malicious websites, such as the Tech Support scam shown below, instead of displaying the web page shown previously.
Redirected to a Tech Support Scam
This does not mean that scammers only design websites about keywords linked to technology.
The same method has been used for other topics such as television, clothes, films and more. Typically these are topics for holiday shopping, coupons, free films or other kinds of content consumers can click on.
Shopping Google Alerts
In the instance above all, scam redirections are the highlighted outcomes.
Protecting yourself from Google Alert spam
The best way to safeguard you from these low quality and malicious kinds of locations is to indicate that you want only the “easiest outcomes” when you create your alert.
This can be configured at the top of the Google Alerts page with the alert choices.
Select only the best results option
When this option is selected, you will remove many of the newly licensed locations and others that have no excellent power and reputation.