Marketplace Scratch Pad

Don’t search for that!

Scott Jagow Jun 9, 2009

You might think Googling for porn would be the quickest route to getting a computer infected with malicious software. But actually, says McAfee, much more benign-sounding keywords are the most dangerous search terms.

The most dangerous phrase is … “word unscrambler.” Max risk 50%, average risk 16%.

Searching for the word “lyrics” is next on the list — average risk 15%, max risk of 50%.

The most dangerous specific lyrics? “Touch my Body,” and “Viva la vida.”

“Free music downloads” is pretty bad. Average risk — 21%, max risk 42%.

Also, after reading this report, I have resolved never to search for “phelps, weber-gale, jones and lezak win 4x100m relay” again. 10% of those searches turn up nastyware.

Phentermine, acai berry, botox, jenny craig and yoga are the health terms that might be bad for your computer’s health.

The most dangerous economic search terms are:

IRS stimulus checks
Credit crisis
Freddie Mac
Goldman Sachs
Wall Street
Financial crisis
Mortgage crisis
Financial crisis

The company names that hackers might be toying with:


It’s also pretty amusing to read which search terms are dangerous in other countries. Germans should really be careful about searching for “Jessica Alba.” In Mexico, “Paris Hilton” is a problem.

In Britain, “Alistair Darling” and “Gordon Brown” carry some risk. Australiians should be worried about “credit” and “The Dark Knight.” The French have some issues with “poker” and “solitaire.”

In New Zealand, you shouldn’t ask Google, “who is the minister of education?”

And by all means, if you’re in Spain, do not search for Grey’s Anatomy in Spanish. Big trouble.

You can read McAfee’s entire report here.

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