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Warning About Dangerous Downloads

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I'm seeing this on Yahoo recently. What is it? thanks.

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Don't know for sure, but I would imagine the warnings are the result of reports from users of websites who suspect they've downloaded a virus, spyware or other potentially harmful programs.


When it doubt, exercise a little caution before you click a download button from an unknown source. Search for others who may have been affected by a questionable download.


[program name] virus

[program name] spyware

[program name] adware


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To set something of a context timeline:

* about two years ago, Warning on search engine safety, BBC, 12 May 2006.

Note: I originally ignored this media fuss as the study was sponsored by McAfee (analysis by SiteAdvisor) - but then others duplicated the results.

Across all searches approximately 4-6% of sites returned were flagged as dangerous. The authors noted that this was more "alarming" than it first appeared because American net users carry out almost 6 billion searches per month. This translates to 285 million clicks on these potentially dangerous sites every month.


* a few months later, Google puts up 'Beware of malware' signs, CNET, 04 August 2006.

The search giant is using data from the Stop Badware Coalition to flag sites that are potentially host to malicious software. Google, along with Sun Microsystems and Chinese PC maker Lenovo, announced support for the group in January.


People who attempt to go to a Web site that has been identified as risky by the coalition are taken to a warning page.


"Warning--the site you are about to visit may harm your computer!" the page states in bold type, then suggesting users can "learn more about malware and how to protect yourself at StopBadware.org."


The interrupt page suggests that users can try returning to the search page and choosing a different result, trying another search, or they can continue to the potentially malicious site.


* about a year ago, Google: 10 percent of sites are dangerous, CNET, 15 May 2007.

Note: pdf link (438KB) to Google report: The Ghost in the Browser: Analysis of Web-based Malware.

Note: my bolded emphasis:

The search giant carried out in-depth research on 4.5 million Web sites and found that about one in 10 Web pages could successfully "drive-by download" a Trojan horse virus onto a visitor's computer. Such malicious software potentially enables hackers to access.


Seventy percent of Web pages hosting rogue software are found on legitimate sites targeted by hackers, according to Sophos.


* a few weeks ago, Yahoo Protects Users From Dangerous Search Results, CyberNetNews, 06 May 2008.

Note: Yahoo has partnered with MacAfee's SiteAdvisor so the tale has come full circle from that report two years ago - good marketing or serendipity, you decide. :)

Yahoo, just like Google, has decided that they need to start taking steps to protect users from malicious search results that they might be serving up. They’re calling the new feature SearchScan, and it is powered by McAfee’s SiteAdvisor. You can actually get a SiteAdvisor browser add-on yourself that will do almost the same thing, but the people who are actually aware of SiteAdvisor’s existence are probably not the ones that need it the most.


What’s really nice is that Yahoo not only checks to see whether a site contains malicious downloads, but it also flags those that sell your email address. Here are the three different warnings that you’ll possibly see in the search results:


* Browser Exploits — These are sites that can stealthily harm a user’s computer or install malware simply by visiting the site. Beginning today, any such sites or pages included in McAfee’s data will be removed from search results automatically.

* Dangerous Downloads — SearchScan will display warnings next to search results for sites that offer potentially dangerous software, such as viruses, spyware or adware. Users often may be unaware that these can be passed along with the screensavers, games and other software downloads.

* Unsolicited Email — SearchScan will alert users to scanned sites that send unsolicited emails or inappropriately share email addresses with third parties.



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thanks guys, that verifies it's real, and I just not click.

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