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If you like gunning down cowboys in the Wild West – and who doesn’t – then you may well have picked up Red Dead Redemption over the last couple of weeks, especially given that it’s one of the highest ranking games in years.

One of the most interesting aspects of the game is the treasure hunt, where you use cryptic clues and drawings to find landmarks in the gameworld to get your hands on bars of gold.

All in all, it’s a rather entertaining task. The problem is that there are plenty of opportunities to get stuck while looking for these bars of gold, and it seems the Rogue AV peddlers are living up to their reputation as no good pesky varmints.

A basic Google search for “Red Dead Treasure Map” gives us these three sites as the top results:

Red Dead Malware

While the sites are flagged in Google for harming your computer, you can of course find these sites (and many more besides) riding high in other search engines too which means a potential lack of a warning message in Search results, and also a lack of warning if you’re using a browser that doesn’t have built in alerts.

Here’s a typical report for one of the sites mentioned – as you can see, it’s Rogue AV links all the way. While the last time the site mentioned in the report served malware was just yesterday (and a number of the sites are already being cleaned up) there are many links out there with around 25 potentially dangerous links in the first eight pages of Google alone.


Should the unwary user click into the middle link for example, they’ll find their browser minimises to a single prompt telling them their PC is “infected”, and when they hit OK they’ll see this:

fake av site

We know from experience that no end of people will download and install the fake security software from these sites, and unfortunately many more will pay to unlock the completely useless “full version” into the bargain. Cue desktop looking like this:

rogue av

At that point, I believe the chap in the stovepipe hat and the tape measure will do you a good deal on a wooden coffin. We haven’t seen other aspects of the game targeted by this Blackhat SEO campaign yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Be on your guard and keep your six shooters ready…

Christopher Boyd