Top 50 Riskiest Search Terms: Music & MySpace Pose Threat

June 10, 2009

Of the 50 riskiest terms to search across Google, Yahoo, Live, AOL and Ask in the US, “word unscrambler,” “lyrics,” “myspace” and “free music downloads” are the most dangerous, according to a report from online security firm Mcafee, which rates search terms based on their likelihood to return results that lead users to unsafe malware and virus-spawning websites, writes MarketingVOX.

The top 50 riskiest search terms:

mcafee-top-50-risky-dangerous-search-terms-us-june-2009.jpg


McAfee’s? search terms’? “maximum risk” score indicates the percentage of pages on a single search-results page that are dangerous. For example, in a search for “lyrics,” there was one search-results page where 50% of the ranked pages were risky. “Average risk” is the overall risk from all five pages of search results for each term, according to Search Engine Land.Scammers who take advantage of careless searchers also keep track of popular trends when deciding which keywords to populate with venom McAfee noted.? The following chart highlights some of the riskiest terms related to the current economic climate:mcafee-us-most-dangerous-economic-crisis-terms-june-2009.png

Last year was more celebrity-oriented than financially so. In a study released in September, McAfee determined that users seeking Brad Pitt-oriented themes, including photos, screensavers or desktop wallpaper, have an 18% chance of encountering malware. Certain keyword categories are also more dangerous than others.? For example, searches related to “lyrics” and “free” carried both the highest average risk and highest maximum risk.In its report, McAfee also questioned how well search engines themselves keep users apprised of risky websites. It noted that Yahoo uses SearchScan (a McAfee product) and Ask uses Symantec. Microsoft’s Live Search, Bing and Google all use proprietary tools.Previous research from McAfee also evaluated search sites on their ability to minimize risk for searchers.About the study: McAfee analyzed the first five search results pages across 2,600 popular keywords across the most popular search engines. Both organic and paid listings were incorporated into the analysis, and more than 413,000 unique URLs were checked for potential risk.

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