Abstract: One year after releasing The Safety of Search Engines in May 2006, McAfee Site Advisor reassess the state of search engine safety and evaluate changes in search engine safety levels over time. This report also follows their second study, The Safety of Search Engines – Revisited, released in December 2006.In this study, the safety of leading search engines is compared, using McAfee SiteAdvisor’s automated Web site ratings. AOL returns the safest search results, while Yahoo! returns the greatest percentage of risky results. Since May 2006, search engine results have become safer, primarily due to improved safety of sponsored results on Google, AOL, and Ask. Despite this improvement, dangerous sites are found in search results of all of the top five search engines, and sponsored results continue to be significantly less safe than search engines’ organic results.Key Findings:
- Overall, 4.0% of search results link to risky Web sites, which marks an improvement from 5.0% in May 2006. Dangerous sites are found in search results of all 5 of the top US search engines (representing 93% of all search engine use).
- The improvement in search engine safety is primarily due to safer sponsored results. The percentage of risky sites dropped from 8.5% in May 2006 to 6.9% in May 2007. However, sponsored results still contain 2.4 times as many risky sites as organic results.
- AOL returns the safest results: 2.9 % of results rated red1 or yellow2 by McAfee SiteAdvisor. At 5.4%, Yahoo! returns the most results rated red or yellow.
- Google, AOL, and Ask have become safer since May 2006, with Ask exhibiting the greatest improvement. The safety of search results on Yahoo! and MSN has declined.