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Beware! The Most Dangerous Search Terms on the Internet

Posted by dorian on June 10, 2009

Dangerous topics include screensavers, free games and “work from home”

HONG KONG, China (CNN) — If you like to search for “music lyrics” or “free” things, you are engaging in risky cyber behavior. And “free music downloads” puts 20 percent of Web surfers in harm’s way of malicious software, known as “malware.”

Searches that use "free," "music" and "download" are at increased risk of malicious software.

Searches that use “free,” “music” and “download” are at increased risk of malicious software.

A new research report by U.S.-based antivirus software company McAfee has identified the most dangerous Internet search words that places users on pages with a higher likelihood of malware.

The study examined 2,600 popular keywords on five major search engines — Google, Yahoo, Live, AOL and Ask — and analyzed 413,000 Web pages.

“Just in the past year, we’ve seen a pretty dramatic shift in what we call malware,” David DeWalt, president and CEO of McAfee, told Richard Quest for CNN’s Quest Means Business. Video Watch Quest interview with McAfee boss »

“It went from a hacker in a basement, to organized cybercrime to now, literally, terrorism and other forms of organized geopolitical attacks,” he said.

Categories that had the highest risk of run-ins with malware: screensavers, free games, work from home, Olympics, videos, celebrities, music and news.

Riskiest terms: word unscrambler, lyrics, myspace, free music downloads, phelps, game cheats, printable fill-in puzzles, free ringtones and solitaire.

The study shows how cyber criminals are increasing in sophistication.

“We can have massive outages with a hacker in the basement — we saw that recently with the ‘Twitter worm,’ a 17-year-old in his basement basically perpetrated tens of millions of (computer) outages, or we can see an organized attack bringing down infrastructure,” DeWalt said.

Antivirus software companies lag behind latest developments by cyber criminals. “We’ve been way behind, that’s true for the entire world, the global infrastructure of the Internet has grown dramatically — 50 percent of the world’s PCs are unprotected,” he said.

Despite the increased risk, DeWalt doesn’t believe there will be a “cyber Armageddon” causing widespread destruction of computers and Internet infrastructure.

“Last week, you saw President Obama in the United States talk about a major cyber-security initiative sponsored by the government, other governments are sponsoring this as well,” DeWalt said. “I think we’re learning this can happen, and if we get ahead of it, we can prevent it.”


4 Responses to “Beware! The Most Dangerous Search Terms on the Internet”

  1. princessxxx said

    i know, like what i was telling you about that ‘tagged=)’ photo thing.
    that seemed like a virus.


  2. dorian9 said

    i’m one to search for music lyrics. good thing i’m on a Mac.


  3. sarsen56 said

    A simple search for ‘Stonehenge’ is quite alarming…


  4. dorian9 said

    ahah! i’ll read anything on stonehenge – http://www.solvingstonehenge.co.uk/explore.html
    thanks, sarsen, how about another – albeit modern – read on a megalithic mystery , our local ‘georgia guidestones’ http://enkilleridos.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/the-mystery-of-the-american-stonehenge-the-georgia-guidestones/

    tell me what you think.


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