Web Searches on Celebs, Lyrics Return Viruses

By Nicole Karlis

Daily Iowa via UWIRE

Michael Phelps may have conquered the 2008 Olympics, but he might also be destroying students’ computers.

Typing his name in five major search engines carries a 40 percent maximum risk of infection, according to a recent report by the security technology company McAfee. Hypothetically, 100 out of the 250 websites that appear after a search of “Michael Phelps” would be infected.

Common infections from dangerous search terms include Trojans and malware — short for “malicious software.”

“You can expect that someone is going to get into your computer” when searching for “free music,” said Stanley Ziewacz, a graduate student in computer science.

That search phrase combines two risky terms, in fact. Any search that includes the word “free” is likely to be an infected website. And the top three riskiest terms in the United States were “word unscrambler,” “lyrics,” and “myspace” — all with a maximum risk of 50 percent.

It’s difficult for infected sites to be completely weeded out from searches because new scams constantly replace old ones, the report said. Furthermore, the sites pop up because search engines will return bad websites as their top results, said E.J. Jung, a UI assistant professor of computer science.

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