When it comes to online gambling spam, first think about fantasies of fame and fortune. Who hasn’t imagined defying the odds at an exotic casino? Splitting a pair of sevens. Going all in on the flop. Your baccarat dealer declaring, La grande! For most of us, though, a ticket to Monte Carlo and an Aston Martin are outside the price range.
So we turn to online gambling. And bad actors harness that allure to create their scams. We think we’re buying credits at a hot new online casino. But often, we’re handing over payment information to hackers.
These hackers can’t draw attention to their scams without legit websites promoting them with links and other content. It’s why we’ve seen that hype from unlikely sources, including more than 100 top U.S. colleges and universities. Even recently, our own security researchers encountered websites infected with online Korean gambling spam.
Here’s the deal with online gambling spam
Online gambling spam belongs to the search engine spam family. In an attack also known as spamdexing, hackers compromise websites and inject spammy content to hijack the search engine rankings of legit websites.
They do this because search engines are set up to recognize and ignore sites they deem threatening. So hackers look for innocent sites to promote their online gambling spam, and then funnel away web traffic, directing it to other online properties they set up for their own purposes.
The different types of online gambling spam
Online gambling spam can take on many different forms. Each one is designed to lure away traffic and send it to online properties set up by hackers. Being more familiar with the different types of online gambling spam makes it easier to identify and avoid.
- Links — These are a popular form of online gambling spam because they direct visitors to online properties set up for scams. When a site gets infected, you’ll find spammy links scattered throughout, often mixed in with the intended content.
- Keywords — Just like credible webmasters, hackers research keywords related to online gambling, and then add them to compromised websites in order to get ranked. People searching for real online casinos might find themselves looking at online gambling spam.
- Ads — Online gambling spam ads take advantage of impulsiveness, as they urge visitors to perform actions like clicking now for a special offer. But instead of that offer, visitors are instead pulled deeper into a scam.
- Posts & pages — Once hackers compromise a website, they can create and optimize entire posts and pages dedicated to online gambling spam. This content generally follows established practices for SEO, but the content is designed to lure traffic to another site for the scam.
Can I protect my website from online gambling spam?
Protecting your website from online gambling spam involves the same measures against spamdexing in general. To get started, you’ll want to apply these best practices: :
- Timely updates — Components of a content management system (CMS) require regular updates, which patch vulnerabilities among other things. Failing to run updates in a timely manner leaves a back door wide open for hackers.
- Strong passwords — Passwords that are easy to remember or even speak are also easy to hack. Strong passwords are lengthy and use characters at random, making them exponentially harder for hackers to crack.
- Regular scans — Regularly running scans is a good way to gain peace of mind that your site isn’t infected with online gambling spam. You can find many free scanners online, including our own SiteCheck.
- Firewall protection — A web application firewall (WAF) is constantly updated with definitions of the latest threats online. That makes it extremely difficult to bypass in order to compromise a website.
Here’s what to do if you’re infected with online gambling spam
Online gambling spam might seem relatively benign compared with other threats online, but that makes it even more dangerous. In addition to eroding trust and damaging your reputation, online gambling spam can lead to a site getting blacklisted.
With most of a site’s organic traffic cut off, the road to recovery can be a difficult one.
It’s critical to be proactive with online gambling spam. By get started right away with remediation — either on your own or with — much of the impact will be reduced and you’ll contribute to creating a safer internet for everyone.