Security Corner

May 31 2009   6:56PM GMT

Search for Screensavers at Your Own Risk

Ken Harthun Ken Harthun Profile: Ken Harthun

Enter “screensavers” into any major search engine and there’s better than a fifty percent chance that any result you click on will land you on a malicious website. According to McAfee’s recently released report “The Web’s Most Dangerous Search Terms,“ that search term carries a maximum risk of 59.1 percent. Furthermore, lyrics and anything that includes the word “free” have a high risk of exposing users to malicious or fraudulent web sites. Health-related search terms have the lowest risk profile. Check out The Web’s most dangerous keywords to search for on

One of the biggest problems is that the bad guys, using Black Hat SEO techniques, grab onto the trending search terms of the moment and use their popularity to get links to compromised sites placed high in the search engine rankings. This, coupled with the fact that 77% of Websites carrying malicious code are legitimate sites, make for an increasingly dangerous environment for the casual surfer.

This is yet another reason to continue to beat my drum: If you use IE, disable scripting and ActiveX (IE8 has increased security, so consider upgrading). Better yet, switch to Firefox and use the NoScript plugin. Tell the users who trust you to do the same, will you? And make sure they have the latest security patches on their systems. Most people are trusting souls; on the web, they shouldn’t be. Let’s instill the “trust no one” (except for us white hats, of course) mentality into everyone we can.

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