Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Search Engines' Sordid Side (MSN Money)

“As useful as search engines can be, a recent study reveals they also come with major risks. An innocent search may end up directing you to a site that infects your computer with spyware or subjects you to spam, phishing, and other online scams.

SiteAdvisor, which McAfee (NYSE: MFE) recently purchased, drew some scary conclusions from an extensive study on five key search engines: Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) MSN Search, AOL, and Ask.com. According to SiteAdvisor's estimates, U.S. consumers make about 285 million clicks to hostile sites per month through these major search engines.

Another interesting finding from the SiteAdvisor study: Sponsored search results, where advertisers pay for top placement, are likely to be more harmful than "organic" searches based on relevance and other unbiased factors. SiteAdvisor found that a sponsored Google search is more than twice as likely to involve an unsafe site as its organic searches. Ask.com's sponsored searches are four times as likely.”