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Jan102019

Google to Patch Knowledge Graph Manipulation Hack

Google is finally working on to fix the long-reported exploit that allows people to manipulate the search results in Google’s Knowledge Panels.

The alleged exploit was first discovered and reported a year ago to Google by a security researcher.

A possible reason for Google’s attention now may be because the year-old hack is now a center of discussions on the internet.

The hack can be used to alter search results to show almost “any site” for “any search query” in the knowledge panel.

Here is how it works?

Start with searching on Google Search for any legitimate query, like “Adblock” this will bring a Knowledge Panel in the side box.

Google Search Results and Knowledge Panel for AdBlocker'

Then click on the “share” icon inside the Knowledge Graph, that will generate a shared item link.

Google Knowledge Graph for Adblocker Share box

Next, copy this link into the search bar (URL bar) in a browser and press enter or click go. On click, the URL will load the same search results for that Knowledge Panel, but now it will have a new set of parameters — something that reads, for example: “kgmid=/m/09v5hsl”

The “kgmid=/m/09v5hsl” parameter is responsible to trigger the Knowledge Graph entry for that search. In this example it’s AdBlock.

Here is the complete URL:

https://www.google.com/search?q=google+chrome+ad+blocker&oq=google+chrome+ad+blocker&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i60l3j0l2.9513j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Just change this parameter to load any other search query Knowledge Panel alongside the original search results. In this example, the new Knowledge Graph for Micky Mouse will get loaded by changing the parameter to “&kgmid=%2Fm%2F057ph”.

Here is the new URL after making changes:

https://www.google.com/search?kgmid=/m/09v5hsl&hl=en-IN&kgs=8f63fb719e5e750d&q=AdBlock&shndl=0&kgmid=%2Fm%2F057ph

Google Knowledge Panel for Adblocker altered to show Micky Mouse Knowledge Graph alongside original search results

Now just add “&kponly” at the end of the URL will widen Knowledge Panel, while pushing the search results way down the page.

According to Search Engine Land, a Google spokesperson confirming the upcoming fix for the exploit stated:

“We share the concern about the potential for bad actors to create misleading distortions of our search results pages, and are working to fix this issue.”

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