Don't Search For Free Goodies Online!

Searching for free music, games and screensavers can be hazardous to your computer

Internet security firm McAfee Inc. searched for more than 2,600 popular keywords on the most accepted search engines including Google and Yahoo! Buzz and found that certain keywords or search terms were riskier than others. McAfee said some search categories are used to lure unsuspecting consumers to their websites. Hackers and cybercriminals are often able to persuade searchers to download files carrying malicious software that can cause consumers to disclose their personal and financial data.
According to McAfee Inc., some of the riskiest searches on the Internet today are associated with either with finding items for free, such as music or screensavers, or looking for work that can be done from home.

Hackers are most successful when they can attract a large number of victims. One way to target big crowds online is to track current events-everything from celebrity meltdowns and natural disasters to holidays and popular music. One key tool cybercriminals use to snare victims is to get them to download a computer file or program that comes with a malicious payload.

Searching for free music downloads online is risky too. On an average, 20.7 percent of results were risky (compared to just 1.7 percent of all search terms) and on one results page out of the 25 search engine pages rated, McAfee found a whopping 42.9 percent of results risky. As consumers continue to convert their music libraries to digital formats like MP3 files, they also struggle with the cost of buying music they may already own in cassette, LP record, or other formats. 

Caught between those two needs, many consumers have heard that the web can be a source for free music. If the consumer is already looking for music, then they already have the mindset of being willing to download something-and that makes the malware authors' work easier.

Work from home searches can be as much as four times more risky than the average for all popular terms. And on an average, these searches are 50 percent more risky than other popular terms.

The Indian result of the study shows that searching for Katrina Kaif and Shahid Kapur can be dangerous to your computer! Searching for the famous actress can put you to a 26.6 percent risk of affecting your computer while Shahid Kapur makes you vulnerable to a 22.2 percent risk.

Other most dangerous search terms in India include Waptrick, Orkut, Yahoomail, Rediffmail, How to earn money, Namitha (Namitha Kapoor -- the Tamil/Telegu actress), Shimla and Bejing 2008 Olympic Games.

Surprisingly, searching for the term 'Viagra' is not as risky as searching for 'Screensavers' or 'Free Games'. According to the report, searching for Viagra is safer than searching for the term 'iPhone' and 'Barack Obama'!

The complete McAfee report can be accessed here.

Article written by AUTHOR_NAME