Have you ever done a search and seen some strange results in the top hits that make no sense? Odd grammar, bad spelling, and weird domain names are all possible indicators that you’re looking at a “poisoned” link. Poisoned search terms / links populate top-level search results with links that can be riddled with malware, viruses, keylogging programs, etc. A spammer will essentially find out which topics are trending and create link farms—sites that link to other sites to drive them higher in the search engine rankings-- to get their poisoned pages to populate the top search results. For example, when the tsunami devastated Japan, numerous search results about the disaster started showing up that contained malware. The unsuspecting victim would click on a link that leads to a malicious website where malware would be downloaded onto his or her computer..
Some tips to avoid falling victim to poisoned search terms are:

    • Look at the URL before you click. If you see a weird extension such as .CN or .RU that you wouldn’t normally expect from a top-level hit, you may not want to click the link.
    • Look at the description in the search results. If there is bad grammar, poor spelling, odd capitalization, etc., you may want to avoid clicking that result.


In addition to following these tips, make sure you have all the latest updates installed to your security software. You can also use a free tool like Norton Safe Web Lite, a toolbar that will let you know which sites have been scanned and deemed safe by Norton before you click.