The top 10 most dangerous internet search terms

Posted 7:49 AM by crkota in Labels:
Users surfing the web for song lyrics, free music tracks and screen savers are most at risk of accidentally downloading malicious software, a study has found.

Many of the websites purporting to contain this content also harbour virus, Trojans and other malware, the computer security experts at McAfee found. As a result, many web users are unwittingly exposing themselves to dangerous content that could compromise their machine and even lead to hackers and cybercriminals gaining access to their personal information or banking login details.

Among the most dangerous search terms were “free music downloads”, which carried a 20.7 per cent risk of exposing web users to malicious software, “game cheats”, which carried a 16.7 per cent risk, “word unscrambler”, which carried a 16.1 per cent risk, and “lyrics”, which carried a 14.8 per cent risk.

McAfee also analysed the risk levels by search category, and found that “screensavers” was the riskiest group of products to search for online, with a 34.4 per cent chance of exposing web users to malware, while searches for “free games” carried a 6.8 per cent risk.

Other dangerous search terms included “iPhone”, “Jonas brothers” and “Rhianna”.

“The web is a great resource, but consumers need to understand that it has risks,” said Shane Keats, a research analyst at McAfee. “Those risks are magnified if you search in popular categories.”

McAfee’s report said that cybercriminals were becoming increasingly savvy about finding new ways to ensnare web users, and that targeting keywords associated with downloading content was one of the most-used.

“One key tool cybercriminals use to snare victims is to get them to download a computer file or program that comes with a malicious payload,” said the report.

“Hackers are most successful when they can attract a large number of victims. One way to target big crowds online is to track current events – everything from celebrity meltdowns and natural disasters to holidays and popular music.”

The McAfee study analysed more than 2,600 popular keywords from a wide variety of sources, including Google Zeitgeist, a tool that monitors hot search terms.



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