Illegal Online Pharmacies Prey on Consumers08/17/11
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Unsuspecting consumers
attempting to buy prescription medications over the Internet may
fall victim to one of the many illegal online pharmacies popping up
on the web, according to a new report.
Cyber-security experts at Carnegie Mellon University said that
infected websites are redirecting online shoppers to dangerous
"We have known for some time that unauthorized online pharmacies have been using email spam to tap the wallets of unwary online consumers, but that method did not blanket enough customers so now the online thieves are infecting websites to redirect unwary consumers to hundreds of illegal online pharmacies," cautioned Nicolas Christin, associate director of the university's Information Networking Institute, in a Carnegie Mellon news release.
The researchers examined the top results for 218 drug-related
web searches over the course of nine months in 2010 and 2011. The
researchers found the search results were being manipulated to
promote unauthorized pharmacies.
One-third of the search results were of 7,000 infected websites,
redirecting consumers to hundreds of rogue pharmacy websites, the
researchers said. Among the top 10 search results, 25 percent
actively redirected to illegal pharmacies. The researchers noted
another 15 percent of the top results had previously been
compromised but were not presently redirecting consumers.
"So, to those who aim to reduce unauthorized pharmaceutical sales, more emphasis needs to be made in combating transactions facilitated by web search," concluded Christin.
Experts note that research is considered preliminary if it has
not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny required for
publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides more information
on how consumers can protect themselves when
buying medications online.
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