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updated 3/30/2011 9:19:12 AM ET 2011-03-30T13:19:12

Searching for the latest trending topic on Twitter could land users in hot water, according to security experts.

Researchers at the security firm Panda Labs have begun seeing attacks that use trending topics on Twitter to bait users into clicking on malicious links. Targeted keywords found in the first few days of December include "Advent calendar," "AIDS Awareness" and salacious scam messages that read, "Nobody cares about Hannukah!!!" and "Shocking video of the Grinch."

Each of the trending Twitter topics is followed by a shortened URL, which takes users to a fake site that prompts them into downloading malware and attempts to exploit users’ systems through vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader or Acrobat, explained Panda Labs researcher Sean-Paul Correll.

This new scam functions similar to Blackhat SEO campaigns, where cybercriminals trick search engines into positioning their corrupted pages at the top of the search results for a popular topic.

As a precaution, Correll suggests staying away from the trending topics section of Twitter.

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