The Most Dangerous Web Search Terms

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 7, 2009
Updated • Dec 10, 2012
Search, Security

Which search terms would make it on the list if you would have to compile a list of the ten most dangerous web search terms? Most users would probably add search terms like warez, cracks and sex when asked to compile a top ten list. A recent McAfee study on the other hand came to a completely different conclusion. The ten most dangerous web search terms are everyday search terms that cannot be connected easily with malicious intent. The top spot is occupied by searches for Screensavers, followed by free games, work from home and Rihanna with Barrack Obama, the iPhone and Taxes in the list as well. It should however be noted that the top 10 list is made up of categories and not single search terms.

These search terms are more dangerous than, lets say warez, because most users know that warez can lead to malicious software quite easily while they most likely do not suspect the same from these popular search terms.

  1. Screensavers
  2. Free Games
  3. Work from home
  4. Rihanna
  5. Webkinz
  6. Powerball
  7. Phone
  8. Jonas Brothers
  9. Twilight
  10. Barack Obama
  11. Taxes
  12. Viagra

The McAfee researches searched for more than 2600 popular keywords examining the first five pages of results across five popular search engines with McAfee's Site Advisor technology. The top 50 most dangerous search terms in the US were listed in the research paper as well. The phrase "word unscrambler" is taking up the top spot followed by lyrics, myspace and free music downloads.

The researches discovered that lyrics and free made up the two most category-specific risks on the web these days. The research paper can be downloaded directly at McAfee.

Generally speaking, the more popular a search term the higher the risk that search results will be polluted with malicious contents.


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  1. Roebie said on September 16, 2011 at 10:23 am

    “the not so perfect search utility in XP”
    At least it worked. Both Vista and Seven take far too much time indexing and searching on networked drives.
    A search for all files with a certain string in the filename takes 3 times longer on Seven (and 4 times longer on Vista) than on XP.
    The indexing service takes too much memory too.
    I’ll stick to Copernic Desktop Search for now!

  2. Kari said on September 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    What a crap! My customers don’t find their documents with windows search function, even if it is almost in right front of you. Microsoft’s policy is to keep everything messy and protected, and the most stupidiest thing is to show different name for the folder than what it actually is.

    Is it too much to ask, if the search function would work like in XP? Yes it is…
    Good luck with Windows Search, third party software rules in this case… too.

  3. Fuddler said on October 18, 2012 at 6:13 am

    The term negation function doesn’t work.

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