At the conclusion of an 18-month study by German testing lab AV-Test, it was discovered that Microsoft’s Bing search engine returned about 5x the number of malicious sites in the search results than leading competitor Google. Surprised? I am – but this is a particular case where the results have nothing to do with how many people use the service, but rather how the service decides to crawl the Internet.
AV-Test looked at 40 million sites provided by the likes of Google, Bing, Russia’s Yandex and four others. Of these 40 million, Bing and Google shared an equal load of 10 million. In total, 5,000 pieces of malware were discovered (which actually seems modest given the total sampling of sites), with most of this (3,330) confined to Yandex. In second-place is Bing, with 1,285 results and Google with 272.
These numbers themselves don’t highlight much of a problem, but there’s still some real cause for concern. Most of these results came from creative search-engine-optimization use that pushed them to the front page of the search results. Some even manage to appear near the top. While it’s easy to “play-it-safe”, it’s easy to ignore a risk when a result appears so close to the top of a list.
It’s also worth noting that while Bing found more malware than Google, its number of daily search queries pales in comparison. Based on some simple math applied at PC Mag, Google’s 2 – 3 billion queries per day means that 50,000 queries per day risk someone stumbling on malware. Scary.