The 8 Most Dangerous Search Words Ever
It's not just online pornography, gambling and free MP3s that put your computer at risk. Search terms will do it, too. The most dangerous search term you can use? It's "free screensavers."
Why? Type "free screensavers" into any search engine, and it will lead you to unscrupulous Web sites that will try to infest your computer with spam, spyware and dangerous downloads, reports the BBC News. Fully 64 percent of the sites found using this phrase caused problems for users, according to a report from the British company Site Advisor.
Led by from Ben Edelman and Hannah Rosenbaum, the researchers entered 1,394 popular keywords into Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL and Ask. Using the Site Advisor security tool, they analyzed the results for each search term. Site Advisor warns users when Web sites are known to be dangerous.
What is "dangerous"? The most benign would try to change users' browser settings to direct them to specific ad sites, while the most insidious would deluge users with spam or bundle adware and spyware with downloads. Using security flaws and loopholes in the browsers, some sites install software on the sly, which can allow the PC to be hijacked or lead to the loss of personal data, reports the BBC. Here's an example: Once users registered their e-mail addresses, one particularly sinister Web site sent more than 300 spam messages a week.
The 8 Most Dangerous Search Terms:
1. Free screensavers
6. Download Yahoo Messenger
7. Lime wire
8. Free ringtones
Across all searches, up to 6 percent of the sites were flagged as dangerous, notes the BBC. "Even a single visit to a dangerous site can have serious and lasting implications for the average internet user," Edelman and Rosenbaum wrote in their report.