Pinning down abuse on Google maps

Danny Yuxing Huang, Doug Grundman, Kurt Thomas, Abhishek Kumar, Elie Bursztein, Kirill Levchenko, Alex C. Snoeren

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate a new form of blackhat search engine optimization that targets local listing services like Google Maps. Miscreants register abusive business listings in an attempt to siphon search traffic away from legitimate businesses and funnel it to deceptive service industries—such as unaccredited locksmiths—or to traffic-referral scams, often for the restaurant and hotel industry. In order to understand the prevalence and scope of this threat, we obtain access to over a hundred-thousand business listings on Google Maps that were suspended for abuse. We categorize the types of abuse affecting Google Maps; analyze how miscreants circumvented the protections against fraudulent business registration such as postcard mail verification; identify the volume of search queries affected; and ultimately explore how miscreants generated a profit from traffic that necessitates physical proximity to the victim. This physical requirement leads to unique abusive behaviors that are distinct from other online fraud such as pharmaceutical and luxury product scams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication26th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2017
PublisherInternational World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee
Pages1471-1479
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781450349130
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017
Event26th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2017 - Perth, Australia
Duration: Apr 3 2017Apr 7 2017

Publication series

Name26th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2017

Other

Other26th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2017
CountryAustralia
CityPerth
Period4/3/174/7/17

Keywords

  • Abuse
  • Affiliate fraud
  • Local listings
  • Online map

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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