malware

Google search results are 5 times safer than Bing's

Bing just got served a piece of its own Scroogle pie, after an independent study found that Microsoft’s search engine delivers malware-infested websites in its results at nearly five times the rate of Google.

Researchers at the AV-Test security institute in Germany spent 18 months investigating more than 40 million websites delivered as search engine results in order to gauge which search sites include pages infected by malware or phishing attacks. Its findings [PDF] are flattering for Google, but not so much for Bing.

According to the study, out of 20 million websites provided by Google and Bing in equal part, 272 Google results contained malware, while Bing delivered almost five times as many infected websites: 1285 poisoned pages. In the overall ranking, however, Russian search engine Yandex delivered the most malware results, almost ten times more than Google.

“If we factor in the fact that Google processes around 2 to 3 billion search requests every day, however, it becomes clear that hundreds of thousands of infected websites are delivered to users on a daily basis,” Markus Selinger from AV-Test concluded in the report, which found a total of 5000 potential pieces of malware throughout the testing period.

AV-Test security

Protecting your searches

It sounds like a lot of malware is lurking in search engine results, but in context, the numbers might not be that significant. Based on the figures from AV-Test, if out of 10,921,207 Google results 272 are malware, this means just 0.0025 percent of Google results may be compromised. Considering that Google processes billions of searches daily, the number of users exposed increases exponentially—but your search engine's filter is not your only line of defense.

Browsers also provide a level of security to search engine results, as all major browsers are equipped with a phishing and malware site blacklist filter. NSS Labs regularly compares the phishing protection in browsers, and found the average rate of phishing site detection is above 90 percent for Firefox, with Chrome peaking at 94 percent, followed by Internet Explorer 10 with 92 percent, and Safari at 91 percent.

Aside from your browser, using a good antivirus program will also help keep your computer safe from phishing and malware. Similar to how NSS Labs tests browser security, AV-Test inspects all the available antivirus solutions and measures how well they protect users, as well as performance and usability. You can view the latest test results here, which indicate antivirus software averages a 92.5 percent detection rate.

The key, which AV-Test also points out, is to keep your browser and antivirus software of choice up to date as well, as many of the vulnerabilities detected normally target outdated browsers, add-ons and extensions.

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