McAfee recently released a report entitled The “Web’s Most Dangerous Search Terms,” in which the security company endeavored to find out which searches put us most at risk when it comes to viruses, scams and malware.
McAfee searched for more than 2,600 popular keywords, with these words being ranked in two ways: the average risk of all results and the maximum risk of the riskiest page of results. The report revealed some interesting findings, along with some that were pretty obvious. For instance, searching for anything with ‘free’ in the title (free ringtones, wallpapers, screensavers etc) is pretty risky as is searching for music to download. If you’re already looking for something to download, you’re not making things difficult for cyber criminals.
Obvious stuff aside, McAfee reports that spikes in news coverage can also drive even consistently popular keywords out of the “most risky zone.” For example, three popular female celebrities are Angelina Jolie (8.3 percent maximum risk) Oprah Winfrey (10 percent) and Beyonce Knowles (10 percent) however a search for Gwen Stefani’s daughter, Zuma Rossdale, can be as risky as 25 percent, suggesting that malicious or unscrupulous players
pay attention to news events in order to target unsuspecting searchers.
McAfee found that the riskiest set of keyword variations was “screensavers” with a maximum risk of 59.1 percent and an average risk of 34.4 percent compared to the study averages of 10.0 percent and 1.7 percent. Surprisingly, McAfee says that searches using the keyword “Viagra” yielded the fewest risky sites. Perhaps scammers think that men shopping for viagra have enough problems without adding viruses to the mix?