Google Changes its Ranking Algorithm.

Just when you think you have worked out how to optimize your website to get the best ranking for you site for your favorite search terms, Google goes and changes the ranking algorithm! In a move intended to counter criticism for allowing content farm sites to rank above high-quality sites Google has anounced a change to its search engine to demotes ‘low-quality’ websites. Apparently the change will affect about 12% of Google search queries in the US.

According to an announcement on the official Google Blog, this update does not rely on the feedback received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which was launched a few weeks ago. The post by Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, and Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer notes that “If you take the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension, then this algorithmic change addresses 84% of them, which is strong independent confirmation of the user benefits.”

At the moment it is impossible to speculate how any of the changes made by Google will impact on any online business in the long term, but we will keep our finger on the pulse, and let you know what we find.

If you want to read the official Google Blog announcement click here

Microsoft Takes Down The Waledac Botnet

In a post on the Official Microsoft blog, entitled Cracking Down on Botnets, Microsoft announced the takedown of the Waledac botnet, one of the 10 largest botnets in the United States and a major distributor of spam globally. Microsoft achieved this after a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order cutting off 277 Internet domains believed to be run by criminals.

In a complaint filed in the Eastern District of Virginia on the 22 February against John Does 1-27 et al, Microsoft alleged that the “Doe defendants have undertaken the forgoing acts with the knowledge that such acts would cause harm through the .com domains located in Virginia and through user computers located in Verginia, therby injuring Microsoft, its customers and others both in Virginia and elsewhere in the United States”. This argues that the Virginia Court has jurisdiction over the case regardless where the perpetrator reside.

The takedown of the Waledac botnet, or Operation B49 as it was known internally in Microsoft, was the result of months of investigation. The Waledac botnet is believed to have had the capacity to send over 1.5 billion spam emails per day. From Microsoft’s analysis, between 3-21 December 2009, approximately 651 million spam emails attributable to Waledac were directed to Hotmail accounts alone.

This legal and industry operation against Waledac is the first of its kind, but hopefully it won’t be the last. Microsoft has acted with experts from the international security communication to combat this menace to computer users everywhere. However, taking down the botnet is not the end of the story.

Thousands of computers are still infected with the Waledac computer worm, a self-replicating malware computer program. Although the zombies are now largely out of the bot-herders’ control, they are still infected with the original malware. Microsoft advise users people running Windows machines to visit the Microsoft Security Web site, where they can find Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool, which removes Waledac.

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