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Search engines reduce risky results, says report
Published: 2007-06-04

The chance of encountering a questionable or malicious site among search results dropped to 4 percent in May, as most search engines continue to work to cull dubious sponsored links, stated a report published on Monday by SiteAdvisor, a subsidiary of security firm McAfee.

The report surveyed the SiteAdvisor ratings of the top-5 search engines, which represent 93 percent of all searches on the Internet, and found that those that linked to risky Web sites dropped to 4 percent of all results, compared to 5 percent a year earlier. Most of the improvement came from better vetting of the sponsored links that the search engines place in a prominent position for a fee. This year, 6.9 percent of such links were considered risky, down from 8.5 percent a year ago.

"These differences indicate search engines’ control over the sites they promote," the report stated. "Search engines can look the other way while dubious ads run rampant, but they can also set and enforce tough editorial policies to keep bad ads out."

SiteAdvisor regularly scans sites that account for the lion's share of all Web traffic, rating dangerous pages as 'red', questionable pages as 'yellow', and legitimate sites as 'green'. In March 2006, the company found that sites accounting for 5 percent of all Web traffic attempted to upload hostile programs to a visitor's computer, or acted in some other malicious way. Sites that accounted for another 2 percent of traffic received the company's yellow rating.

In the latest survey, America Online's search engine had the fewest risky search results at 2.9 percent, while Yahoo's search engine had the most at 5.4 percent.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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