According to this article at ARSTechnica, one in twenty-five search results across major search engines result in sites affiliated with spyware, viruses, excessive pop-up advertisements, and junk e-mail.
The study found that not only can regular links found by search engines be dangerous, the sponsored links that appear in prominent positions in the results pages can also be harmful. In fact, in the May study, sponsored links were more than twice as likely to be linked to malware than non-sponsored links (8.5 vs. 3.1 percent).
Things web surfers can do to combat these threats:
- Install the free McAffee Site Advisor plugin immediately! This plugin shows a little green, yellow or red icon beside links to warn you of questionable sites. Simply DON’T select any links that are red.
- Follow my previously posted guide on Protecting Your Digital Secrets.
- Keep your Web browser up to date. Download the most popular Web browsers: Firefox, Opera and Internet Explorer.
- Keep your operating system up to date by taking advantage of the automatic updates feature.
As always, skeptical computing is the order of the day.