Browse Definitions:
Definition

pharma hack

Contributor(s): Stan Gibilisco

The pharma hack is an exploit that takes advantage of vulnerabilities in WordPress or Joomla documents, causing search engines, notably the one hosted by Google, to return ads for pharmaceutical products along with legitimate listings. The hack can be difficult to detect because it does not affect the displayed pages of the compromised Web site or blog.

The purpose of the pharma hack is to make pharmaceutical sales sites they are promoting appear higher in Google results than they otherwise would. The Google search engine ranks the list of hits for a given Web site according to (among other factors) the number of external sites that link to it. By inserting the rogue code into an unsuspecting victim's site, the hack in effect links that site to the cracker's site. If done on a large enough scale, this tactic can result in the cracker's Web site showing up near the tops of various hit lists resulting from keyword-based searches.

In WordPress, the pharma hack comprises files in the plugins folder that contain malicious code that runs other, disguised code in the database. The code is disguised by reversing the order of the strings, thereby making the problem difficult to detect as a hack. In order for the hack to work, the malicious files must exist in the plugins folder. Once activated, the hack pings Google to find out how many links exist for a particular listed Web page. The more links a page has, the more "desirable" a target it makes, and the greater is the likelihood that it will be hacked.

In order to find out if a given site has been compromised by the pharma hack, experts recommend entering a specific character sequence into the Google search engine. Type "site" followed by a colon, then the domain name followed by a space, then "Viagra" and finally hit the search button. If the site has been affected, unusual descriptions linked to actual pages or blog posts will appear. The modified title tag and links can only be seen in search results, not in the hacked site itself.

Victims of the pharma hack have reported decreased traffic to their sites and, in some cases, removal of their sites by Google from search result lists. Because Web site owners cannot readily see when they have been pharma hacked, the online reputation of a legitimate company or individual can be seriously damaged before the rogue code can be removed. Once discovered, the code can be taken out of the affected files, although the process can take considerable time and effort.

This was last updated in March 2013

Continue Reading About pharma hack

Join the conversation

2 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

It is common now days. If your site is hacked, you can contact astonishindia at gmail dot com for further help and assistance.
Cancel
http://health-tabs-store.com pharma hacked our WordPress site. We updated to the latest version and it seemed to fix the problem.
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • computer exploit

    A computer exploit, or exploit, is an attack on a computer system, especially one that takes advantage of a particular ...

  • cyberwarfare

    Cyberwarfare is computer- or network-based conflict involving politically motivated attacks by a nation-state on another ...

  • insider threat

    Insider threat is a generic term for a threat to an organization's security or data that comes from within.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder)

    OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder) is open source software designed to create and manage a service that provides persistent data ...

  • SATA Express (SATAe)

    SATA Express (SATAe or Serial ATA Express) is a bus interface to connect storage devices to a computer motherboard, supporting ...

  • DIMM (dual in-line memory module)

    A DIMM (dual in-line memory module) is the standard memory card used in servers and PCs.

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid flash array

    A hybrid flash array is a solid-state storage system that contains a mix of flash memory drives and hard disk drives.

  • 3D XPoint

    3D XPoint is memory storage technology jointly developed by Intel and Micron Technology Inc.

  • RRAM or ReRAM (resistive RAM)

    RRAM or ReRAM (resistive random access memory) is a form of nonvolatile storage that operates by changing the resistance of a ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • Google Cloud Storage

    Google Cloud Storage is an enterprise public cloud storage platform that can house large unstructured data sets.

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

Close