A study by the AV-TEST Institute, a German antivirus security firm, revealed that despite the best efforts of search engine operators such as Google and Bing to prevent delivering malware sites, some infected websites are still able to avoid these search bots. The AV-TEST study showed that Bing supposedly returns five times more malware sites than Google.
The study also showed Google is the best when it comes to producing safe results, followed by Bing. However, Bing still has five times the chance of leading users to sites infected with trojans and similar malware.
During the 18 month study, AV-TEST investigated over 40 million websites delivered as search engine results. Google and Bing were able to provide a good 20 million websites, while Russian heavyweight search engine Yandex provided over 13 million websites.
Google is the most popular search website due to the sheer volume of search results it provides. It handles 2-3 billion search requests a day all over the world. This also means that Google delivers thousands of infected sites a day. However, the AV-TEST confirms that Google does a better job at filtering out malware compared to its competitors in the study. The study also showed that Yandex is 10 times more likely to bring malware sites in its results, compared to Google.
AV-TEST author Markus Selinger said,”Google achieved the best results in the study, followed by Bing. Attention must, however, be drawn to the fact that Bing delivered five times as many websites containing malware as Google during the study.” Of the 10.9 million searches, Google returned 272 malware infected sites, while Bing resulted in 1,285 infected websites.
This latest study is not published to scare people using the Internet. AV-TEST’s CTO Maik Morgenstern emphasized that, in general, search engines are fighting a good fight. He explained, “The number of websites with malicious content compared to the total number of malware is very low for all of the tested search engines, so all of them are putting a lot of effort into filtering malware.”
According to Bing director Bill Hankes, “Bing is able to detect pages consisting of machine-generated spam, keyword stuffing, redirect spam or malware, allowing [it] to effectively remove such sites from results. Bing has developed several ranking signals to help weed out spam results and better understand the intent of the searcher.” He added that Bing is constantly innovating ways to detect the evolving malware versions and numerous spam techniques.
The goal of the study is not to put Bing and the other search engines in a bad light. Morgenstern clarified that, “All of the tested search engines are pretty safe. We primarily wanted to show that despite the good work of them, some attacks could still go through.”