A Safer Way to Search

  • Posted May 5th, 2008 at 7:56 am by Yahoo! Search
  • Categories: Search

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Today, we’re announcing the beta release of SearchScan, a new feature from Yahoo! Search that helps protect users from viruses, spyware and spam. We’ve heard from users that security and privacy continue to be major concerns when they are online. We’ve also learned that solutions that require downloads and constant updating are less than ideal. To tackle the problem, we partnered with McAfee to build a feature that provides a safer and hassle-free search experience to all users.

How does it work? SearchScan leverages McAfee’s SiteAdvisor technology to alert users if risky websites appear in Yahoo! Search results. Starting today, SearchScan will be turned on by default for all users in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Spain, and will scan for three types of risks in our search index:

  • Browser Exploits — These are sites that can stealthily harm a user’s computer or install malware simply by visiting the site. Beginning today, any such sites or pages included in McAfee’s data will be removed from search results automatically.
  • Dangerous Downloads — SearchScan will display warnings next to search results for sites that offer potentially dangerous software, such as viruses, spyware or adware. Users often may be unaware that these can be passed along with the screensavers, games and other software downloads.
  • Unsolicited Email — SearchScan will alert users to scanned sites that send unsolicited emails or inappropriately share email addresses with third parties.

With SearchScan, our goal is to protect users by allowing them to make a more informed decision about the websites they visit. By displaying prominent warnings next to search results for sites with potentially dangerous downloads or unsavory email practices, users are aware that while visiting the site may be safe, downloading a file or sharing an email address could be risky. Browser exploits, which include drive-by downloads, are different. Since just visiting these sites can cause harm, they will not appear in Yahoo! Search results if they’ve been identified by McAfee.

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While SearchScan will be on by default, users have control over how they use the feature. In preferences, users can choose to turn the feature off or choose to filter out all sites with warnings from their search results.

SearchScan will continue to evolve and improve, but in the meantime, let us know if you have any feedback in the comments below.

Priyank Garg, Director, Product Management
Graham Mudd, Product Marketing Manager
Yahoo! Search

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