“I’m not sure how this happened. I wasn’t looking at…bad stuff… or anything like that.”
Despite anti-virus, anti-malware, traffic filtering and search engine providers like Google putting in protective measures, there are still some search terms to avoid even today. This is because the folks that have time to do this, AKA “hackers”, are well aware of things like trending news topics and can make malicious websites to draw in their victims. Overall, the best rule of thumb is to listen to your gut. Also, please just take our word for it on the following searches.
1) “Free (insert what you want here)”
One of the most prolific examples we found was “free Microsoft office.” With the advent of the affordable Office 365 product for personal, business and non-profit, one would think that this search would have dissipated to some degree. Still running strong at 2,500,000+ searches per month, after the first few links the remaining links begin to show attempts to get you to surf to their website – which will commence an onslaught of malicious requests. Many of these sites will try to trick you into installing an ‘installation driver’ that is likely malware.
2) “Desktop Wallpaper”
With 2,200,000 searches per month – We get it. Perhaps everyone still misses the ol’ Windows XP default wallpaper. That aside, we always recommend that if you don’t like the options in Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 that you utilize your own pictures as it is easy to use them and your office needs to know that your cat really is that cute. However, if you feel you need to venture to the World Wide Web to find that perfect background, it is important that you take note. Whether you are looking for pictures of landscapes, sports teams or your favorite band, the majority of wallpaper sites will provide you infected files.
3) Oh I love that song, let’s ask Google what they are really saying! “(my favorite song) lyrics”
Lyrics websites are notorious for utilizing a tactic called “click bait” as the demand is so high. Usually the current songs getting radio play pull in about 8000 searches per month at a bare minimum. Many times the lyrics will come up, but you will have to click on multiple ads to get through to those sweet, sweet words of your favorite musicians. Unfortunately, unlike some news sources, these clicks often head towards malicious activity and install adware, malware and other nastiness.
OK fine, next…
(Sigh) We could write something snarky here, but just know you have an extremely high risk of getting… an infection.
Written by: Kevin Calgren, Partner