Most Dangerous Web Search Terms

A recent McAfee study (pdf) reveals that searching for certain keywords carries a greater risk of being infected with malware.

McAfee found maximum risks associated with the word, not surprisingly, "free". Studying the U.S. in particular, words associated with celebrities or song lyrics demonstrate how malware gloms onto recent headlines and trends. "Screensavers", "free music downloads" and "free ringtones" remain popular ways to lure you into clicking malicious links. And the keywords "search engine marketing" or "search engine optimization" have become increasingly linked to sites that deliver malware or scareware antivirus scams. In short, just because a link comes up when you search for a particular keyword doesn't mean that link is where you want to go.

I recommend free programs like McAfee SiteAdvisor or the even better LinkExtend for Firefox as plug-ins for your Web browser. These programs rank search results to give you a better idea of whether or not the links are malicious. But your safest bet is to type Web addresses manually, for example going directly to instead of searching for it by keyword.

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Posted byTriona Guidry at 9:18 AM  


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