Books written by Ray Sullivan

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Search Engine Malware Malaise

No sooner did I commend Bing to you as a search engine of choice than I stumble across a piece of research that suggests Bing is a dangerous place to be.

A German research Institute in Magdeburg has analysed literally millions of search results from seven search engines and found the engine least likely to deliver a malware payload in its results is Google.  Bing, the search engine belonging to Microsoft came second and the Russian search engine, Yandex, sits at the bottom of the pile.

So how serious is this? Well the results for Google search is that out of 11,000,000 searches only just under 300 results carried malware, whereas the Bing results were about five times that.  The Yandex results, by comparison, were off the scale.

But fewer than 1500 malware payloads per eleven million searches doesn't sound too serious, unless you cop for one, of course.  What you search for probably skews the likelihood of being targeted by malware, but that's a bit of an assumption on my behalf. In my mind, if I search for sites that provide illegal downloads, pornographic material or Justin Bieber Merchandise then I guess I have to take some responsibility for my rashness. If I'm searching for mainstream commercial products, known and respected websites and so on then I should be insulated from the malware threat.

And if I take the time to install a basic antivirus package, then even the free versions provide anti-malware tools. So this is at least partly in my control.

But let's not dismiss Google's efforts - to be ahead of the second placed search engine by a factor of five doesn't happen by accident, especially so when you consider that the majority of searches globally are made through them. The Yandex result shouldn't surprise either. They are located in the heart of a culture that has a reputation for encouraging such online nefarious activities. I'm sure they are attempting to apply due diligence, but you can only push so much water uphill.

In the final analysis it is clear that search engines are going to be used as one more weapon in the arsenal of the criminal underclass. Virtually everything else we do online is seen as a potential opportunity to sneak in and skim some cash off us - I've stopped accepting Bitcoins as payment for my books following the revelation this week that the unregulated virtual currency with no physical collateral is being used by crooks to pay for illegal drugs. I'm considering the same approach to the Euro, for similar reasons.

With the application of common sense, sensible antivirus and anti-malware software and the total avoidance of anything Bieber related we should be able to avoid being hit by malware as a result of using a search engine - even if we stick to Bing and they fail to narrow the apparent gap between them and Google we should only be exposed to a potential malware threat once every seven thousand Bings, or about once in a lifetime for most of us. Use some additional common sense and apply caution then we should be infected once every five lifetimes at most, although I'm struggling to work out how to prove that.

Use Google or Bing, or Yahoo for that matter, but don't start to fret. If you must use Yandex, and I know from the Blogger stats I receive that a significant proportion of my readers find me using that search engine, then be aware that you are at potentially more risk than with the other search engines.

In fact I would suggest you carry out a search for Google or Bing.  And use that for all other searches, at least until Yandex gets a handle on the malware issue.  And if you see a link that looks like it contains the word Bieber in it - don't click on it - it could be worse than malware.


                                                          Visit my Book Website here

        Visit Project: Evil Website here                                        Visit DLF Website here

        Follow me on Twitter  - @RayASullivan

        Join me on Facebook -  use to find me

No comments:

Post a Comment