Google Crowned 'King of Malware'

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Google has been crowned the 'king of malware' by security company Barracuda Networks, linking to twice as much malware as search rivals Bing, Yahoo and Twitter combined.

According to the company, an analysis of 25,000 trending topics across 5.5 million search results [PDF], Google accounted for 69 percent of all malware found, with Yahoo at 18 percent, Bing (which supplies Yahoo search) at 12 percent, and Twitter on 1 percent.

Artwork: Chip Taylor
As for the trend topics that drive malware in search results, the gap between one appearing on Twitter and in search results varied from 1.2 days on Google to 4.3 days in Bing, and 4.8 days on Yahoo. This suggests that one reason for Google's popularity in the malware stakes is simply is responsiveness in picking up on these trending subjects. Malware embedded in search simply follows this.

The other is perhaps its outright popularity. According to a recent comScore analysis, 62.6 percent of all US search traffic is on Google's site, well ahead of yahoo's 18.9 percent and Bing's 12.7 percent.

Interestingly, Barracuda's malware percentages line up almost exactly with these market share numbers, which suggests that this might be the dominant factor.

Barracuda also has some more fascinating data on Twitter, a company whose fortunes it has analysed in forensic detail in the past.

The Twitter 'crime rate' was 2.38 percent in June 2010, says Barracuda, based on its analysis of 25 million sample accounts, including those that show irregular behaviour patterns. This rate is the number of accounts that end up being suspended in any given period, and has risen after months of low or falling crime falls.

The company also reckons that only 29 percent of Twitter users are 'true' Twitter users, which is to say that they actively participate and follow others or have their own followers. In general, activity levels are still rising, which increases the attractiveness of the service to criminals.

As of June 2010, many as 15.8 percent of Twitter accounts have no followers, but this is still substantially down on June 2009, when the number was 30 percent. Most users have few followers, with 36.3 percent having between one and four. One percent exceed 1,000 followers.

One interesting statistic is the relationship between the number of tweets made and the number of followers that user attracts. Attracting users does require tweeting but users who tweet too often seem to put off followers. 'Noisy' tweeters appear to quickly plateau in terms of followers.

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