McAfee warns of dangers of free music and movies

Searching for "free" found to increase malicious site results
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Searching for "free" found to increase malicious site results

Intel-owned security firm McAfee has published a report that says that cybercriminals were increasingly tagetting sites with free music and movie downloads.

McAfee's Music and Movies Report subtitled "The true cost of free entertainment", warns that cybercriminals have shifted attacks into malicious adverts and video viewing tools which appear on sites offering free music and video downloads.

In the report, researchers outlined several specific threats including the threat of “free” software, MP3s and streaming video, dangerous fan pages and malicious ads that appear even on well-established, reputable web sites. The research found that adding the word “free” to a search for music ringtones resulted in a 300 percent increase in the riskiness of sites returned by major search engines in English. The word “free” in other languages yielded similar results.

The report said that searching for "MP3s" increased the likelihood of reaching malicious web sites while "free MP3s" was even higher. McAfee also said that even when consumers indicated paid-for MP3s in their search, results still appeared for pirated content.

McAfee also said that malicious URLs were often posted to fan clubs and comments on social media sites such as YouTube and Twitter. Malicious advertising or “malvertising,” where an ad is used to distribute malware or exploit the user’s browser, is a common means of infection.

“Consumers are visiting fan sites, downloading movies and reading celebrity news, but generally aren’t aware of the risks,” said Paula Greve, director of web security research for McAfee.

“They can access ‘free’ content quickly and easily, but it comes at a price. Consumers must stay aware of the risks and be on the lookout for potential new dangers.”

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