Cyber crooks manipulate search engines with tainted links

(WXYZ) - Cyber crooks are manipulating search engines so their poisonous or tainted web links pop up in your results.  

And if you click on the malicious link, malware or viruses can invade your computer.

"You will be infected and you won't even know it," says Chris Larsen of Blue Coat Security.

Blue Coat Computer Security analysis found search engine poisoning attacks mounting.

And now computer users are three times more likely to get a tainted link from a search engine than in an email.

"People do trust the search engines and they are predisposed to click on whatever they see in the results, and because they're not aware it could be dangerous this turns out to be a very effective attack for the bad guys," says Larsen.

Blue Coat found bad guys don't only target people searching for top news stories or adult content.

They may try to lure you to their links while you search common topics like:
-Health and medical information
-Samples of business and professional letters
-Seasonal searches, like holiday recipes, decorations and costume ideas.

Chris Boggs, the chairman of SEMPO, says,"Search engine algorithms have been designed partially to prevent cyber criminals from doing this kind of behavior."

The search engine industry group SEMPO says web sites do fight back.

Google told us: "We've built and refined tools over many years to keep malicious content out of our search results."

Bing says: "We are actively working on new filtering techniques for Image search where the majority of these malicious links were found."

Unfortunately sometimes cyber criminals sneak past even tough search engine security.

Boggs says,"There's a few things that you can do to help that from happening."

To avoid poison links:
-Look at web site address endings
-Experts say .com and .net are usually safe
-If it ends in something you've never heard of like .cx or .tf you may want to avoid those
- If the text under the link looks garbled don't click on it

Teach your kids about how to avoid poisonous links when the search.

And of course, always make sure you have good, up to date anti-virus and malware programs running on your computer.

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