June 2, 2009 ?? – Are your web searches putting your computer at risk?
In a recent report, security firm McAfee, Inc. revealed how cybercriminals use common search terms to release malware that can infect a computer and, in some cases, steal a user’s identity.
McAfee researchers analyzed over 2,600 of 2008’s most popular search terms from a variety of sources, including Google Zeitgeist and Yahoo! Review of the year 2008.
10 most dangerous web searches
According to the “The Web’s Most Dangerous Search Terms” report, the top 10 riskiest searches in the United States are:
1. Word decryptor
3. My space
4. Free music downloads
5. Phelps, Weber-Gale, Jones and Lezak win 4x 100m relay
6. Free music
7. Game tips
8. Complete printable puzzles
9. Free ringtones
“Search engines are our ramp, our freeway and our exit ramp – they’re everything for web travel,” said Shane Keats, the McAfee research analyst who led the study. “The hacker community is very smart – they can spot a trend as well as any trend watcher.”
Just as pickpockets know they will have the best chance of snatching a wallet on a busy city sidewalk, internet thieves know they will have the best luck targeting crowds.
“If you are hacking for profit, the best way to make money is to have as many potential victims as possible,” he said. “The biggest crowd will be around these trends.”
After analyzing the search terms, Keats and his team found that not only did hackers look for crowds, but they also prey on internet users who are ready to take some action online, like downloading a ringtone or going online. to a site with a name, an address. and social security number.
For example, people who are looking for free music downloads are easy targets for hackers because they expect to download an mp3.
“They are ready and ready to act,” Keats said.
Cybercriminals increasingly use search engines to spread malware
To assess the risk associated with each keyword, the McAfee team looked at the search results generated by each keyword. Then they calculated the percentage of links that would take users to websites that had adware, spyware, or other unwanted malware.
The term “sayings”, for example, had an average risk of 14.8%, meaning that almost 15 out of 100 search results would lead users to risky sites.
Some of the more dangerous search term categories include online games, free downloads, song lyrics, and screen savers. “Work from home” searches were also among the most likely to attract scammers, Keats said.
Search terms involving online games were among the riskiest as online games often trick users into installing plugins or registering with a name or email address.
Keywords with lyrics were risky, as websites with song lyrics sometimes host links that direct users to sites with pop-up ads or unwanted spyware.
Keats, however, acknowledged that the study is not without its limitations. For example, the fifth most dangerous research, “Phelps, Weber-Gale, Jones and Lezak win 4x100m relay” was specific to the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is unlikely to be repeated in years to come.
Scammers Prefer Search Engines Over Email Spam
Still, computer security experts say the study highlights an emerging trend in cybercrime.
Gary Warner, a computer forensics expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said online crooks distribute malware through spam emails or junk mail. But now, he said, cybercriminals are changing their tactics and targeting victims through search engines.
“It is growing. It has been going on for over two years,” he said. But “over the past three months, it has become the primary source of malware spread.
“We are seeing major malware stop sending spam and doing it all the way,” he added.
To protect themselves, Internet users should adjust their Internet browser settings so that the browser does not run any programs unless users actively give it the go-ahead, Warner said.
McAfee’s Keats warned users to stay in “well-lit” parts of the internet, for example, by downloading a Beyonce screensaver from her fan page instead of an obscure website.
He also warned netizens that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a link promises free downloads of all the latest hit songs, there’s a good chance it’s leading you to a risky website, he said.
“The web is a great resource and we absolutely should be using it, but you have to obey the rules of road safety,” Keats said. “What is true in the offline world is also true online.”
For the full list of the 50 most dangerous search terms, click on the next page.
The 50 Most Dangerous Web Search Terms in the United States
3. my space
4.Free music downloads
5.phelps, weber-gale, jones and lezak win the 4x100m relay
8. Complete printable puzzles
11. mini clip
12. earn money
13. viva la vida lyrics (coldplay)
14. touch my body lyrics
15. love song lyrics
16. lollipop sayings
17. my life (lil wayne) lyrics
20. the price is right
21. kimbo slice
26. music downloads
28. lime wire
29. words of paper planes (mia)
30. no aerial words
31.with you (chris brown) lyrics
34. free e-cards
35. text twist
36. bleeding words of love
37. no air by jordin sparks feat. Chris Brown
39. mixed wrestling
40. zuma rossdale
41. paris hilton
42. pamela anderson
43. free compatibility reports
44. free people search
45. song lyrics
46. discount coupons
47. new lands
49. casey and caylee anthony