Skip to content

T1608.006 SEO Poisoning

Adversaries may poison mechanisms that influence search engine optimization (SEO) to further lure staged capabilities towards potential victims. Search engines typically display results to users based on purchased ads as well as the site’s ranking/score/reputation calculated by their web crawlers and algorithms.21

To help facilitate Drive-by Compromise, adversaries may stage content that explicitly manipulates SEO rankings in order to promote sites hosting their malicious payloads (such as Drive-by Target) within search engines. Poisoning SEO rankings may involve various tricks, such as stuffing keywords (including in the form of hidden text) into compromised sites. These keywords could be related to the interests/browsing habits of the intended victim(s) as well as more broad, seasonably popular topics (e.g. elections, trending news).52

Adversaries may also purchase or plant incoming links to staged capabilities in order to boost the site’s calculated relevance and reputation.14

SEO poisoning may also be combined with evasive redirects and other cloaking mechanisms (such as measuring mouse movements or serving content based on browser user agents, user language/localization settings, or HTTP headers) in order to feed SEO inputs while avoiding scrutiny from defenders.53

Item Value
ID T1608.006
Sub-techniques T1608.001, T1608.002, T1608.003, T1608.004, T1608.005, T1608.006
Tactics TA0042
Platforms PRE
Version 1.0
Created 30 September 2022
Last Modified 13 March 2023


ID Mitigation Description
M1056 Pre-compromise This technique cannot be easily mitigated with preventive controls since it is based on behaviors performed outside of the scope of enterprise defenses and controls.


ID Data Source Data Component
DS0035 Internet Scan Response Content