The Cincinnati Hack: newsjacking, cracking and online movies on the rise

You’ll have heard stats like Netflix being responsible for about a 30% of all bandwidth consumption in the States. There are plenty more similar figures. Sandvine’s research notes that YouTUbe accounts for 20% of all mobile downstream traffic in Europe, North America and Latin America. Filesharing (sites like BitTorrent) is on the way down but in regions like Asia-Pacific such sites still account for 30% of traffic from fixed access networks. Meanwhile, accessing legitimate sites is on the rise. Netflix mobile data double in the last 12 months in North America.

If you look at some of the latest movies you’ll see spiky interest. This familiar Google graph shows interest over time for [watch bad grandpa] and [watch thor online]. Not only is there search demand but there’s a short lived perfect window to rank for the phrase.

What’s the best way to rank for a short period of time for a highly competitive keyphrase in Google? Google News.

That’s what The Cincinnati Herald is doing in this screen grab. The Cincinnati Herald as every right to be in Google News. It’s the longest running African American newspaper in Cincinnati, dating back to 1955.

It’s being hacked though. There’s a window.location.replace script messing things up for them. You can see it on pages like their /nov/04/bad-grandpa/ and /nov/01/thor/ pages.

<div class="content_title">
<h2>WATCH ONLINE HERE Watch Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa Online : Watch Bad Grandpa Online Full Movie Free HD</h2>
<div class="content">
<p><img onload="window.location.replace('');" src="" height="110" />

Notice the domain the JavaScript redirect is using. In the Thor and Bad Grandpa examples the two URLs are; is owned by Google. This doesn’t mean Google are part of the hack. Webspace is easy to find these days. In fact, it means Google is better able to thwart the crackers by simply disconnecting their blog.

Sadly, I suspect we’ll see more SEO inspired hacking/cracking in 2014. Fortunately, Google et al are rolling out more tools to help webmasters fight back and defend themselves.

Hat tip to Michael Thomson for the spot and screen grabs.

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