The Riskiest Search Terms On The Internet

Identified by McAfee

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Some of the riskiest searches on the Internet currently have to do with finding items for free, or looking for work that can be done from home, according to a new report from McAfee.

Search categories like these are used to lure unsuspecting consumers to their websites. Cybercriminals are often able to convince users to download files carrying, malicious software that can cause people to expose personal and financial information.

"Cybercriminals are smart," said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Product Development & Avert Labs. "Like sharks smelling blood in the water, hackers will create related Web sites laden with adware and malware whenever a particular topic increases in popularity."

"Unsuspecting consumers are then tricked into downloading malicious software that leads them to blindly hand over their personal assets to cybercriminals."

McAfee found the riskiest set of keyword variations was "screensavers" with a maximum risk of 59.1 percent. Nearly six out of the top 10 search results for "screensavers" contain malware. One of the single riskiest search terms in the world is "lyrics," with a maximum risk factor of one in two.

Searches using the word Viagra, a popular keyword commonly found in spam email messages, returned the fewest risky sites. Searches with the safest risk profile included health-related terms and searches about the current economic crisis.

Hitwise Risks

People looking to save money, and/or searching for means of additional income should be aware that clicking on results that contain the word "free" have a 21.3 percent chance of infecting their PCs with online threats, such as spyware, spam, phishing, adware, viruses and other malware.


The Riskiest Search Terms On The Internet
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  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk Adam

    I’m not surprised, whenever I see the words ‘free’ or ‘from home’ in an email my first thought is spam. I don’t see why SERPs should be any different.

  • http://inchoo.net Toni Anicic

    Extremely useful data. It is interesting to understand how the spammers/scammers are actually thinking. I got no idea why did they hookup on keyword “screensavers” :S

    • http://www.conversion-matters.co.uk Adam

      Because if you’re looking for screensavers you are already expecting to have to download something…

    • Saul Goode

      Screen savers or .scr files are one of the most common ways to spread a virus or malware to a persons PC, due to the fact that people will install them and think much of it becuase they “work.” Never install a screen saver from the internet, unless you 100% trust the site.

  • http://www.funninfo.net Harshit Shha

    I think “Fun” is another word in high Risk Category. Its more wider and include games, screensavers and many other words which can be used to lure surfers.

  • http://twitter.com/joshcalvetti Josh

    I’m surprised torrents don’t yield any undesirable threats… It seems as though those are also riddled with lies and viruses.

    • MythicalMe

      That’s because torrents themselves are not dangerous and the web-sites that host them are clean, or they don’t last long. P2P sites are among safest sites you can visit.

      However, torrents can be used to deliver malicious software and viruses just like any other tool.

  • http://www.shankerbakshi.com Make Money from Blogging

    I already damaged my system three times with these “The Riskiest Search” . Now i understand the only thing i can found on internet are malicious software.

  • http://canadaprogrammers.com matthew

    Just from looking at those search terms you can tell who the target audience is. Tweens and their parents, the biggest web users. My question is how do these spam sites generate enough traffic to get high page ranks.

  • Guest

    … with web searches or torrents. Try Linux, folks! It’s much better. Free (and not malicious!), easy to set up, easy to use, fast, stable, secure and trustworthy.

    By the way, the captcha is terrible – computers are pretty good at arithmetic…

  • http://www.freelance-seoindia.blogspot.com/ freelance seo

    Great information…. i though viagra should come FIRST!

    • Guest


      By freelance seo (WPN reader) – Thu, 05/28/2009 – 13:46
      Great information!R
      Great information…. i though viagra should come FIRST!

      Viagra comes to you, you don’t have to search for it.

  • Guest

    okay, here goes:
    matthew “You can tell the target audience”
    – the target is simply whatever google reports as the most searches, it has little to do with “target audience” the target is the most searches, not the other way around…
    – google doesn’t work like that, it doesn’t move you to the top based on amount of traffic, read the pagerank algorithm.

    make money blogging “The Riskiest Search”
    – there is literally thousands of free software on the internet, non malicious and actually quite good. the problem is you have to be smart about what you choose to download. for example, if the site has a whole bunch of porno ads, or pop-up boxes, or “click here” targets then it’s likely that the site is malicious – otherwise it’s probably safe. Get youreslf a virus scanner if you can’t think well enough to figure out what’s suspicous

  • http://international-penpal.com International Penpal

    Just the other day I was talking to my step daughter about this very same thing. She is into the Jonas Brothers and Webkinz. She is always searching on line for more about them. I have had to clean her computer three times. I have finally put a stop to it and she is forbidden to search anything. I have set a strong parental control. She is an unhappy camper but at least she can still chat with her friends. And I am still skeptical about some of the chat programs as well. A good thing to remember about getting anything online, nothing if for free

    • Saul Goode

      Try SandboxIE, you can have her search in a controlled environment that won’t affect the computer with malware and viruses since they can’t reach into the OS.

    • Guest

      Just install Linux, most of these viruses are geared towards Windows, you’ll probably be safe. And if you install something nice and simple like Ubuntu then she’ll be able to find everything. And you don’t have to pay for your softwares, usually.

  • DaMoNarch

    The Rihanna search results will cause your computer to uncontrollably beat the crap out of you.

    The Barak Obama search results will drain your bank account and then redistribute your money to people who don’t have bank accounts

    • Guest

      I know you were trying to be funny, but both your responses offended me, and had nothing to do with the article – although I realize you could care less, for if you did, you wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

  • http://www.naat-online.blogspot.com shumail

    o.. i never knew thth word free can be a risk..

  • http://www.notjustthekitchen.com rita

    This is great information. I didn’t think I was naive when it comes to the internet but I learned something here. I hope the message gets out to everyone.

  • http://www.doghouseplans.net/ dog house plans

    I like the last part of this article. Last week, my PC was infected by a spyware. Luckily, I’ve found a program to clean and prevent it for me. Thanks for informing me!

  • http://randomplaza.com/help.turing.test.php Alan Turing

    Want the riskiest one of all? Go to imagefap dot com and search for “lolita” (without the quotes). Then they say the FBI is coming to your door. This is a well known 4chan gag they get lots of people to do.

  • http://www.mercado.com.mx/ Mercado

    i always searching screensaver or wallpapers, thats good to know i will be careful searching that.

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