According to a recent CNN article, people who search online for phrases like “song lyrics” or “free” are engaging in risky search engine behavior. Along with “free music downloads”, these search terms put 20 percent of search engine users in danger of landing on sites that push malicious software, known as “malware.”
A research report by antivirus software company McAfee has found the most dangerous search engine terms that can land people on pages with a high likelihood of virus and malware attacks.
The McAfee study looked at 2,600 popular keywords used on the Google, Yahoo, Live, AOL and Ask search engines. The study then analyzed approximately 413,000 Web pages that rank for those search terms.
Categories that had the highest risk of contaminating your PC with viruses and malware are: screen savers, free games, work from home, Olympics, videos, celebrities, music and news.
The riskiest phrases were: word unscrambler, lyrics, myspace, free music downloads, phelps, game cheats, printable fill-in puzzles, free ringtones and solitaire.
The study also showed how cyber criminals are increasing in sophistication and how antivirus software often lags behind the latest developments by cyber criminals.
Despite the growing virus and malware risks, McAfee CEO David DeWalt doesn’t believe there will be a “cyber Armageddon” that will cause worldwide destruction of servers, computers and web infrastructure.
However, he did say that “In the past year, we’ve seen a pretty dramatic shift in what we call malware.”
DeWalt further noted that: “It went from a hacker in a basement, to organized cybercrime to now, literally, terrorism and other forms of organized geopolitical attacks.”