Posted May 6, 2008 4:15 pm by with 7 comments

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Yahoo SearchScan logoYep, Yahoo working to make the world a safer place—to search.

Yahoo will now display warnings on SERPs to indicate that some of the sites listed in their results may not be entirely safe. Yahoo’s SearchScan feature will be a new default for SERPs served to the US, Canada, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Spain. Potentially dangerous sites will feature a highly visible red warning tag under the page title.

The advisories in action:
yahoo has new safe search advisories on serps
The advisories even specify what kind of dangers might lurk in the pages to come.

Yahoo’s new advisories are based on McAfee’s Site Advisor findings and are used to denote sites that may feature dangerous downloads (including dangerous downloads disguised as or packaged with legitimate downloads) and unsolicited email harvesters.

Even more encouraging, however, is what Yahoo says about sites using browser exploits (emphasis added):

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.

SearchScan will also feature the ability, in your Yahoo Preferences, to block all sites that would receive advisories from your search engine results pages.

The safety of search engine results has been a hot issue for a while now. Google has featured warnings (I finally saw one!), but their warnings are the same color as the result title and could be hard to miss. On the other hand, they vouch that their results are 98.7% safe.

Just two months ago, a Virus Bulletin survey indicated that 85% believed that search engines should be doing more about malicious results. While Yahoo certainly could have made these improvements sooner, this seems like a step in the right direction—at least it should to that 85%.

  • Google already employs similar techniques of course

  • Great improvement.Hope this features will be soon served all countries.

  • This is a great addition, hope this will help protect users from downloading anything they find cool.

  • PS3

    That is certainly a positive step, I’d be interested to see how successful it is at sniffing out phishing sites.

    There is of course a massive downside for anyone either 1) looking for the dodgy stuff, or 2) who’s site is miscatagorised!

  • This is an overdue move and very welcome.

  • If they are certain of a particular site that is ‘risky’ or contains things which are ‘harmful’ for general public… why don’t they just remove it from SERP?

    Saad Kamal’s last blog post..McDar Keyword Analysis Tool

  • I have heard of few cases where websites have been wrongly flagged up and this must be disasterous for anyone it happens to. I have to admit though it is very nice to get some sort of warning rather than the mystery meat we used to get from search engines.