What puts your computer at risk? Online pornography, free downloads unknown emails to name a few. Search terms can do it too. Search keywords like “free screensavers” unleash the onslaught of unscrupulous Websites. Access to these sites, and they will attempt to infest your computer with spam, spyware, downloads with dangerous content. In fact, 64% of sites found on regular searches through the phrase “free screensavers” caused problems for the searchers.
An experiment carried out involved researchers trying of nearly 1400 popular search phrases into the most popular search engines that we use- Google, Yahoo, Live search, AO: and Ask. Using a common security tool on regular anti-virus software called the ‘Site Advisor” security tool, they painfully analysed the results of each search term. Site Advisor basically, warns the users when the Website they are at is potentially dangerous.
When we say ‘dangerous’, what exactly do we mean? The ‘least dangerous’ sites would simply try to change the user’s Web browser settings. They would try to direct the user to ad sites or other sites.
At the more serious level, the ‘more dangerous’ sites would attempt to inundate users with things like adware, and spyware with downloads. Spyware is a piece of software that is installed unknowingly, or without the user’s knowledge on his or her computer. It then proceeds to secretly gather information about the user and give it to advertisers (then the spyware is more specifically called adware) and other parties that might use it for various purposes without the user’s knowledge. Clear privacy invasion! And that’s what you get on your computer every time you arrive at a dangerous site. Spyware is usually installed on a computer as a result of installing some new application or program.
However, using security loopholes in browsers, several of these dangerous sites install software quietly, which can then allow the PC to even be hijacked.
According to the BBC, the 8 most dangerous search keywords are:
1. “Free screensavers”
6. Download Yahoo Messenger
7. Lime wire
8. Free ringtones.
Through all these searches, 6 percent of the sites were flagged by the Site Advisor as dangerous. This is by no means a small number because a single visit to such a site can have lasting negative implications for an internet user.