Google Wave has hit some rough waters. Just a day after the Internet search giant began e-mailing invitations to test the wave, online shenanigans have erupted. The online tool, which will allow users to post photos, videos and text in real time, has gained so much buzz that hackers have created search traps for "Google Wave" and a scalper attempted to sell access.
Security company Websense has reported that Google searches on the terms relating to Google Wave show results leading to rogue antivirus offerings.
Patrick Runald, senior manager of security and research at Websense, said this kind of search manipulation has been going on for more than a year.
"The bad guys are looking for interesting topics or keywords that they can use to manipulate search results," Runald said. "They control a lot of computers using malware and create botnets. They keep track of things that interest people as of right now and have these machines take these keywords like Google Wave and do cross-links."
In this case, because searches for Google Wave invitations have sparked interest, they have drawn hackers.
Because Google results look authentic at a quick glance, searchers are quick to click them. Rather than being connected to safe Web sites, they are redirected to a rogue antivirus Web site. The Web site informs the visitor that the computer is infected with a virus and offers antivirus security for a price.
Once a user types in financial data such as credit-card numbers, the information is stolen and so may be the user's identity and savings.
"It is always about money," Runald said.
How do you avoid getting stuck in the search trap? Runald said businesses need real-time protection, while home users need to pay close attention the URL and where the Google search result links to.
"If it points to something they are not familiar with, they should not go there," he said. "And anything that screams at you that your computer is infected, don't believe it. Of course, make sure security is up to date and the computer is patched."
While some bad guys are lining their pockets through technology, others are acting like online scalpers.
At least that was the case for an eBay auctioneer named Hagan Blount, reported The Wall Street Journal. Blount started an auction for his Google Wave invite on Tuesday. By midday Wednesday, he had 33 bids for the invite, with the winning bid at $157. Others sent inquiries offering $700, $5,000 and even $27,000 for the invitation.
EBay, however, put a stop to the auction because it's against the company's policy to auction off someone else's copyrighted material.
While some people are trying to make an ill-gotten buck off of Google Wave, others are accepting their invitations and reporting problems.
"I got my Google Wave invite last night (Wednesday) and right away I was prompted that Internet Explorer is incompatible with Google Wave and that I'd have to install the Google Chrome Frame plug-in," said invitation holder Shawn Bankert. "A quick search brought me to a blog by Lars Rasmussen and Adam Schuck from the Google Wave team, which confirmed the reason: They scrapped Internet Explorer's compatibility so they could focus on features. A shot across Microsoft's bow, to say the least."
Rather than install the suggested plug-in, Bankert fired up Firefox instead. "Unfortunately, I was greeted with the obscure error message: '"Everything's shiny, Cap'n. Not to fret!" Unfortunately, you'll need to refresh. Wanna tell Dr. Wave what happened?'"
"I have seen enough of Wave from other people to be impressed by it, but in this early stage it is clear there is still some work to be done," Bankert said.