Do you prefer Google to Bing? The two search engine giants have been waging war for quite some time now, and it seems like Microsoft might have one more reason to worry. A tech security firm has recently discovered that ad links listed alongside Bing’s search results are pointing consumers to sites that are infected with malware.
How long has this been happening? It’s tough to tell. Microsoft says it’s investigating the issue, but a list of about 25 infected domains has been found and it’s entirely likely that there are more malware links out there.
Taking Advantage of Your Trust
One of the reasons that it’s especially problematic for malware-infected websites to be listed alongside the search results on an engine like Google or Bing is the fact that few sites on the web are trusted more implicitly than these two.
Both Google and Bing are considered to be highly reputable. When a consumer sees something linked to the right of those search results, it’s generally understood that the website is safe and legitimate.
It’s for this very reason, though, that cyber criminals work to get their sites on the front page of Google or Bing. In this way, it’s just like regular search engine optimization…except that it’s very, very illegal. (It’s also designed to infect people’s computers with malware, as opposed to simply getting more visibility for a business or website.)
ThreatTrack Security Discovers Cyber Threat
So who can we thank for this information? In this case, the accolades go to a firm called ThreatTrack Security. They’re an electronic security firm that figured out the issue and reported it to Microsoft as soon as they noticed that something was amiss.
ThreatTrack found at least 25 infected domains to which consumers were being linked by way of various fraudulent ads placed alongside the Bing search results. The ads were associated with high-target keywords like “YouTube” which turned up a lot of the problematic results.
It appeared that, before Microsoft had begun to look into the issue, searches for bigger keywords were turning up more and more malicious results.
Stick to Sites You Trust
On the Internet, it’s a generalized rule of thumb that you should never click on a website with a domain you don’t recognize character-for-character. There are a lot of phony website domains out there and a lot of them are used to dupe unsuspecting consumers into getting their computers infected with malware.
If you’re about to click on a link, make sure you hover over the link for a moment with your mouse. This typically causes the URL to appear, so that you can make sure you’re visiting a site that you know and trust. If it’s even off by a couple of letters, you might want to avoid clicking.
This doesn’t mean you have to avoid visiting your favorite sites, but when in doubt, you’ll be safer if you just type the URL into the address bar by yourself rather than clicking on a potentially troublesome advertisement link.
And, as always, remember to keep your computer protected with the latest, up-to-date anti-virus software and use secure passwords.
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