Poisoned Search Engine Results

The next time you do an online search for something, pause before you click. Some of the results you receive are poisoned links to malicious sites that may infect your computer with viruses and malware.

Search engines don’t verify that keywords match results, nor that sites are free from infection. Sponsored ads are particularly notorious. If you do a search for “Windows antivirus”, the paid results are often links to fake antivirus programs just waiting to lure you in.

I advocate the use of link-checkers such as McAfee SiteAdvisor or LinkExtend for Firefox. These free add-ons indicate through red, yellow or green icons whether links are safe to visit. Even so, you should always be cautious. Make sure your security software is up to date and that you have the latest versions of programs like Adobe Reader and Flash (here’s why). You can also run Secunia’s Online Software Inspector to check the status of your security protections.

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