On Tuesday, Yahoo and McAfee announced a partnership to make the Yahoo Search experience safer. Launched in beta, the new SearchScan feature, powered by McAfee SiteAdvisor technology, offers always-on alerts for sites with security concerns involving spyware, adware and other malicious software. McAfee SiteAdvisor tests and rates nearly every trafficked site on the Internet.
SearchScan also identifies sites that have shown bad e-mail practices, flooding user inboxes with spam . SearchScan is available for Yahoo Search users in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Spain.
“The new SearchScan feature from Yahoo Search makes searching the Web even safer than ever before,” said Vish Makhijani, senior vice president and general manager of Yahoo Search. “No other search engine today offers this level of warning before visiting sites that can damage or infect a user’s PC and cost them valuable time and money.”
Under the Hood
Here’s how it works: By integrating McAfee’s technology into Yahoo Search, sites that may harm a user’s computer just by visiting them will be eliminated from appearing in Yahoo Search results. SearchScan also alerts users to potentially risky sites with a red warning sign in search results, allowing users to proceed with caution. During this beta period, SearchScan displays McAfee alerts optimal for the Yahoo Search user and does not include all McAfee SiteAdvisor red ratings.
After children’s safety, 65 percent of Americans online are more worried about clicking unsecured search listings than the threat of neighborhood crime, getting one’s wallet stolen or e-mail scams, according to a Decipher Inc Online Security & Web Search consumer survey conducted in March.
“Research indicates that four out of five Web-site visits start with a search, and consumers who use Yahoo Search will now be alerted to high-risk Web sites,” said Tim Dowling, McAfee vice president, Web Security Group. “This protects users from known malicious threats such as browser exploits that will wreck their PC with a single click or spyware that can lead to identity theft.”
Search: The New Security Battleground?
Google already offers some level of site-search security. Google’s search results carry warnings about sites that might harm a consumer’s computer. However, Andrew Jaquith, a security analyst at Yankee Group, expects to see more robust services continue to spring up online.
“Search Engine Optimization is a big thing right now in Internet marketing. The criminals have discovered SEO also. One of the techniques you see right now is criminals gaming the search system so that a bad site pops up to the top of someone’s search results,” Jaquith said.
“Search is definitely a battleground right now,” he continued. “Ultimately the goal is to trick consumers into clicking on links they shouldn’t, which just goes to show that you can’t take for granted anything you see these days, even if it’s from a source you might otherwise trust like a Google or Yahoo search engine.”