Q: Is it really true that it’s safer to search using Bing or Yahoo than it is to use Google and if so, why? — Anna
A: Search has become such a regular part of our lives that it’s likely that most of us enlist the help of a search engine multiple times every day of the week.
There are a number of search engines on the Internet, but Google is by far the most frequently used by the masses with over 60% of all search traffic and more than 90 million searches performed a day.
The flies go where the honey is…
This popularity combined with the trust most users have with whatever Google serves up as results is giving cybercriminals a small opening to fool Google’s indexing system when breaking news stories become trending topics (like when Michael Jackson died).
When breaking news generates lots of search traffic, cybercriminals quickly create Web sites that claim to have information about the breaking news which show up in Google’s results, but when clicked, they re-direct the visitor to a rogue Web site (most commonly a fake anti-virus site).
So to answer your question, Google is the most targeted search engine for what is coined ‘poisoned keywords’ based on what is trending around the Internet.
Barracuda Labs released a study that claims that that of all malware served up by search engines in a two-month period, Google came out on top with 69%, Yahoo came in a distant second with 18%, and Bing came in at 12%.
The most popular search topics targeted by the cybercriminals were spyware and spyware removal followed by entertainment news, but what they target will change with what the masses are searching for.
Google is still the most relevant of search engines, so I would not suggest that you stop using it for standard searches, but I would suggest that you adjust your search behavior to switch to some other resource when you are looking for info on breaking news.
At the moment, based on the research performed by Barracuda Labs, the safest place to search for information on breaking news is… Twitter!
Their study reports that only 1% of malware generated by search comes from Twitter, making it both the fastest and safest place that breaking news can be researched.
Because smartphones are so popular, it’s likely that someone or a group of people on Twitter will tweet about anything that is happening in the world (Hudson plane crash, the revolt in Iran, earthquakes, etc.) and it’s easy to find posts because Twitter’s search results are simple to digest.
For those who have never used Twitter as a search engine, you may be surprised how much easier it is to find real information quickly.
Not only is it a very efficient way to get info on a breaking news, it’s an excellent way to do research for just about anything that you are interesting in buying.
If, for instance, you were interested in buying a Nikon D3000 digital SLR camera, searching Google would give you the usual three million results with propaganda and reviews that were posted anywhere from yesterday to six months ago.
The reviews that were posted can be helpful, but it’s not like you can ask any of the reviewers questions relating to their comments and expect a response in a timely manner or at all.
With Twitter, however, when you search Nikon D3000, you’ll see comments that were posted minutes ago and it will continue to alert you of new ‘tweets’ about the camera if you just stay on the page.
If you have a Twitter account, you can also ask the person who posted the comment clarifying questions, because they are likely still online.
Asking four or five people who already own the camera your questions sure shortens the research time — give it a try!
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Data Doctors Data Recovery Labs
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Host of the award-winning “Computer Corner” radio show