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Microsoft shuts down security centre search tool

by on12 July 2011

Attackers poisoned us
Microsoft had to switch off a search tool over the weekend on its Safety & Security Center after attackers poisoned results with links to porn sites.

The tool has been restored and Microsoft has said sorry for the cock-up. Searches using terms like "sex," "porn," "girl" and "streaming" on the Redmond site were returning links to pornographic websites at or near the top of the results list.

Microsoft's Safety and Security Center is supposed to be a resource for Windows users, and links to security news and tools such as the company's free antivirus software, Security Essentials. However this was being see as being jolly sneaky because it was not normal search poisoning. It's poisoning the results with actual searches.

It seems that Redmond had saved searches, probably because it allowed users to forward searches to others using Twitter. What the scammers did was use the Microsoft site's Twitter feature to create a large number of searches that led to porn sites.

What they did was use the phrases "sex" and "girl" on the Safety & Security Center, and tricked the the site into saving those searches. Microsoft then offered their searches when they should be offering others.

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