U.S. government’s NOAA site hacked by pill pushing spammers

05 March 2007

Ryan Naraine


The U.S. government's NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Web site has been hijacked by spammers peddling prescription pills.

The news section of NOAA's Climate Monitoring & Diagnostics Laboratory has been rigged with about 70 spam pages touting Soma, a prescription-only muscle relaxer.

The spam pages contain Russian-language banner ads, suggesting a link to notorious spam rings operating out of Eastern Europe.

All of the pages are interlinked to cross promote each other, a search engine optimization trick that ensures top listings on the major search engines, including Google.

According to Thor Schrock, who first noticed the links to the .gov Web site being spammed on his customer support forum, the Russian ad banners are powered by Wizard Rules, a London-based advertising network.

At 10:00 AM Eastern, the spam pages were still live despite attempts to contact the NOAA Web site administrators.

[UPDATE: March 5, 2007, 2:50 PM Eastern] The entire Climate Monitoring & Diagnostics Laboratory section of the NOAA site has been taken offline. A NOAA spokesman said the agency is assisting the FBI in an investigation into the breach.

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