What's Riskier Than Porn for Your PC?

One thing is even worse than online pornography when it comes to your PC's safety and security: Digital music.

Surprised? Searching for digital music is twice as risky to your computer's safety and security as viewing online pornography, according to McAfee Inc., a Santa Clara, California-based company that makes computer-security software. Specifically, just 9 percent of adult sites are associated with PC-damaging problems such as spyware, adware and spam, while fully 19 percent of digital music sites will infect your computer with these.

Why isn't pornography a greater threat to your PC? The business side of that industry works without extra hustling, reports The Los Angeles Times. It's much harder to make a buck selling digital music, so it's more likely there will be unwanted ads--or worse--attached to those programs. "The tier-one adult sites are doing phenomenally well as businesses, and because of that they very much have their house in order," McAfee senior product manager Mark Maxwell told the Times.

The single riskiest search term is for the file-sharing program "BearShare," since search results so often include intrusive advertising. Type in "BearShare" into any search engine, and fully 46 percent of the resulting sites are unsafe, according to McAfee's test.

It's also risky to search for celebrities. Britney Spears is more dangerous than Lindsay Lohan. It's unclear why, but searching for former couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston is 36 percent more hazardous than searching for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Four percent of all search results link to risky Web sites. Other risky sites include screen savers and background wallpaper for your computer monitor. Fully 42 percent of the hits for a search using the word "screensavers" result in questionable sites, according to McAfee's study.

There is good news: The very worst sites, which automatically install key-stroke loggers and other malicious programs--remain small with less than 1 in 1,000 hitting the top search-engine results in McAfee's test.

What is the safest search engine? That would be AOL. McAfee found that just 2.9 percent of AOL search results resulted in risky sites, compared with Yahoo! which had the most at 5.4 percent.

Protect your computer: The single best step to help protect your computer and identity is to use up-to-date PC security software, such as McAfee Internet Security Suite, which provides comprehensive, multi-layered computer security against inbound and outbound Internet threats. It helps protect you from viruses, spyware, hackers, unwanted e-mails, phishing scams and identity theft. In addition to anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware protection, the McAfee Internet Security Suite offers firewall protection, identity threat prevention, parental controls and more. For information on the McAfee Internet Security Suite, click here.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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