April 8, 2009

Library Website Hacking Arouses Confusion for Site Visitors

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Visitors who searched for the term “Cornell University Library” on Google may have been surprised yesterday to find advertisements for anxiety pills rather than the familiar reference and collection lists.
The top search result read, “Order Xanax for next-day express delivery and free consultation by a U.S. licensed medical doctor.”
Further inspection revealed that the Human Ecology Historical Photographs site, hosted on the Cornell University Library’s server, displayed a listing for an online drugstore selling Cialis, an erectile dysfunction medicine. Visitors were directed to a site that allowed them to purchase the medicine as well as read testimonials about the product’s “benefits.”
Library officials were unavailable for comment. While the cause of the incident is unknown, it appears that the hijacked page has been removed and the Google search results have returned to normal.
A similar incident occurred at Princeton’s Whitman Residential College earlier this year. Its Google search result contained information on weight loss medication.
Last week CIT officials had expressed concern over the April 1st activation of the Conficker worm. The worm infects Windows machines through a vulnerability in the operating system. At this time, neither CIT nor library officials have issued any statements regarding a connection between the worm and the library hijacking.