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Most Dangerous Key Words: Free Comes with a Price

Searchers looking to make or save a few pennies are
apparently at the highest risk for encountering malware laden sites, according
a report released by McAfee. 
Keyword searches including the word ‘free’ or those looking for
‘work from home’ opportunities yielded the highest number of risky results, according
to the study.  In addition, McAfee found
that as search terms rise in popularity, their risk level (based on the number
of risky links per page of search results) also increases.

Based on the study, some of the riskiest search terms are:

  • Screensavers (max risk of 59.1%)
  • Lyrics (max risk of 50%)
  • Myspace (max risk of 50%)
  • Free music downloads (max risk of 42.9%)
  • Free work from home (max risk of 40%)
  • Game cheats (max risk of 36.4%)

From a local perspective, McAfee’s Canada specific top 3
most dangerous search terms are:

  • Lyrics (max risk of 50%)
  • Kijiji (max risk of 27.3%)
  • Pamela Anderson (max risk of 25%)

Interestingly, a category that was expected to prove highly risky fell
near the bottom of the scale – Viagra has a maximum risk of only 1.6%.  This reflects findings that health related searches in general were among the least risky search terms – something that’s not overly surprising, as, based on the results of the study, McAfee proposes that cyber criminals are targeting searchers who are predisposed to download files and follow links.

With the report comes a warning: as the legitimate players in SEO and SEM grow more
sophisticated, the seedier players are learning the same ropes, and malicious links and downloads are getting just a slickly optimized as any other web 2.0 participant.

You can view the full report on the web’s most dangerous search terms.

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