Monday, May 2, 2011

Dangerous Google Searches

We've noticed a sharp increase in spyware infections resulting from Internet search results (Google primarily, but searches in general). Those responsible for making and spreading spyware are using hacking techniques to manipulate Internet search results. You may search for a celebrity photo, see it displayed in the search results, but then get instantly directed to a poisoned website when you click on the image, resulting in an attempted infection to your PC.

The problem is not limited to image searches. It can happen on virtually any search term and at this point there is no 100% surefire way to know what is safe and what isn't. It's important to understand you are most vulnerable when using Internet Explorer. Mozilla's Firefox browser and Google's own Chrome browser offer built-in safety features that will attempt to identify and block spyware infected sites. Firefox and Chrome are free and there is simply no good reason to still be using Internet Explorer. And you can have multiple browsers installed on your PC. It's possible (but unlikely) there may be a site you use frequently that only works well with Internet Explorer. If that's the case then use Internet Explorer only for that site and use either Firefox or Chrome for all other browsing.

Additionally, you should consider how you're using search engines in general. Some people no longer use a list of favorites (or bookmarks). They google whatever they're interested in and choose from the results. We'd argue that's a bad practice. Given the problem with poisoned search results, you're better to retool your practices and use search when necessary but not exclusively. Bookmark a trusted site to use for news, weather, and your other particular areas of interest. Use those trusted sites when possible, use Internet search for everything else.

To download and install Firefox, go to: http://www.mozilla.com
To download and install Chrome, go to http://www.google.com/chrome