Searching for free stuff online can be costly

It’s common knowledge that you can catch computer viruses on porn Web sites. But did you know it’s also risky to surf the Web searching for free movies or music?

A study from McAfee to be released on Tuesday finds that adding the word "free" when looking for entertainment content in search engines greatly increases the chances of landing on a site hosting malware.

For instance, searching for free music ringtones increases the chances of hitting a malicious site by 300 percent, according to the report, "Digital Music & Movies Report: The True Cost of Free Entertainment." (PDF)

Searching for "lyrics" for a particular artist is twice as risky on average as searching for "ringtones" for the same artist for the first five pages of results, the report found.

And including the term "MP3" increases the riskiness of music searches in general. There has been a 40 percent increase in the number of Web sites that are delivering infected MP3 files or that seem to be built for purposes of financial fraud or delivering malware, according to the report.

Meanwhile, McAfee found malware associated with a number of Web sites around the world advertising free downloads of sports games, movies, and TV shows.

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