Study Calls Google ‘King Of Malware’

Google has twice as much malware in its search results as Yahoo, Bing, and Twitter combined. That’s one of the findings in the Barracuda Labs 2010 Midyear Security Report, which will be presented tomorrow at the DEFCON 18 hacking conference tomorrow in Las Vegas.

Barracuda Labs says it studied the four search engines for about two months and reviewed more than 25,000 trending topics and almost 5.5 million search results. The results aren’t good for Google:

Overall, Google takes the crown for malware distribution – turning up more than twice the amount of malware as Bing, Twitter and Yahoo! combined when searches on popular trending topics were performed. Google presents at 69 per cent; Yahoo! at 18 per cent; Bing at 12 per cent; and Twitter at one per cent.


The study also cites an increase in rogue accounts on Twitter this year. The “Twitter Crime Rate” — the percentage of accounts created each month that Twitter later suspends — was 1.67% for the first half of 2010, with a high of 2.38% in June.


This is a topic we’ve written about before, especially where Google is concerned. In April, one report suggested that some “hot topic” searches on Google returned 90% malicious links. On a more general level, I wrote last year about a McAfee study that examined the web’s riskiest search terms.

Postscript, August 4: A Google spokesperson has sent us this unsolicited statement in reply to the study cited above:

Google has been an industry leader in anti-malware research and technology. We actively work to detect and flag sites that serve malware with warning labels in our search results, reacting to the latest trends and monitoring popular search terms. Similar techniques have since been adopted by other major search engines, but these protections do not appear to have been taken into account by this study.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Security | Google: Trends | Google: Web Search | SEO: Spamming


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • brandingme

    Barracuda also once blocked me from visiting a website of RGB/CMYK swatches because it contained (according to them) “adult content”, so I’d take the report with a grain of salt :-)

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