It used to be that among the first ten pages of search results for popular terms, up to 90 percent of the offered links would take the users to a malicious page serving malware.
Now, the same sample contains only up to three malicious links, and the great majority of these links take users to pages offering fake AV.
There are many reasons behind this fortunate decline. It seems that not only have the hosting companies begun reacting more quickly when it comes to the takedown of malicious domains, but that webmasters have also begun cleaning up their sites more speedily as well.
There is no doubt that Google deserves some credit for this last change, as it has begun educating webmasters by popping up warnings in Google Webmaster Tools and by sending them emails notifying them that their site was hijacked.
But, it’s not all good news. Malicious search results for popular terms might have declined considerably, but cyber crooks have extended their interest to a broader range of topics and types of searches – for example, poisoned Google image searches.
“Searches for buying software online remains 90 percent malicious, redirecting users to fake stores, says Zscaler’s Julian Sobrier. “There has been no significant improvement on that front, with 60 different fake store domains observed in July 2011.” But, as he points out, this is a problem shared by all search engines.