Web Search Safety - A Head's Up

Scammers and malware writers love to appeal to the baser side of human nature; if there is a big story going around - the more lurid, the better - they will latch onto it and use it to their advantage.  

"Ashton Kutcher leaves Demi Moore for Mila Kunis" - boom, that's gold! When people search the web for the juicy details, the bad guys can often influence the search results in order to send you to a booby-trapped web site or otherwise get you to click on something you shouldn't ... and get infected.

The search engines will catch up at some point and usually remove those results, but until then, it's open season. My suggestions are to -

  • Make sure your computer is up-to-date as far as security fixes and patches - Windows Patch Tuesday is coming up!

  • Have a working, up-to-date antivirus installed. I know, I know, I *always* say that!

  • Use a modern browser - if you are *still* using Internet Explorer 6 or even 7, please upgrade to IE 8 on XP or IE 9 on Windows 7. Even better, install and start using the Google Chrome browser or Mozilla Firefox instead.

  • Use a website filter, like Smart Screen for Internet Explorer, or Web Of Trust. These can help you avoid known “bad” sites. WOT is free and easy to install.

  • Use a DNS provider that filters problem websites, such as OpenDNS or Comodo Secure DNS. These are also free and easy to set up, and can help protect against "poisoned ads" on otherwise legitimate websites as well.

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