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Hackers hijack websites in online pharmacy scam

NPR, August 15, 2011

People searching for prescription drug information online are being led astray by hackers and redirected to illicit online drug sellers in 1 out of every 3 searches. "Legitimate health resources are completely crowded out," says Nicolas Christin, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University who discovered that 32% of sites that turn up in search results for prescription drugs had been infected with malicious code. "It's very hard to find legitimate pharmacies, or information like what the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] would give you. This is drowned out in a sea of rogue results." Hackers work the scam by sneaking their own code into a legitimate website. That way the site shows up on a Web search for a prescription drug. If someone clicks on the search listing, it forwards them to an online pharmacy, not to the legitimate site. The owners of the hacked site usually have no inkling their URL has been hijacked.