Company's research into search engine poisoning shows that on some days over 80% of top searches are dangerous
Security company Symantec claims that its research has shown that an average of one-third of top search engine results on any given day contain harmful content.
Its investigation into so-called SEO Poisoning, where criminals attempt to trick search engines so that users searching for current trends are redirected to their own pages, found that of the 30,000 pages checked each day at least 10,000 were poisoned.
Symantec's Khanh Tran said that the single most poisoned search term during the period produced results where over 90% had been poisoned. Of the 300 terms checked daily, over 250 would sometimes return results where 10% or more were poisoned.
He added that, although search engines now attempt to warn users of dangerous pages, criminals had found ways to evade detection. Many sites now present different pages to direct visitors and search engine 'spiders', which index their content, only offering the attack content to users being directed from search results.
The study used the 300 top search terms, as identified by Google's Trends service, each day, recording the first 100 results returned when each was inputted into a search engine and checking to see which were malicious.
The company will release its Safe Web Lite tool in mid-June. The tool, which is currently available as a beta, uses its website reputation technology to scan search results and mark any that are dangerous.
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