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Which search engine is the safest?

Search engines are gateways to the internet. Almost every journey into the online unknown begins with a visit to one of two search giants: Google and Bing. The third biggest – Yahoo! – is also powered by Microsoft’s Bing, just with added yellow backgrounds and exclamation marks.

If we’re using a tool that much, we should definitely know which one provides us with the safest experience. The answer? Google.

An 18-month study by AV Test – the same company who gave our product a great rating in April – showed that Google displayed less malware-infected links in its search results than Bing.

Although Google didn’t get a perfect score, it still performed incredibly when compared to its nearest competition. AV Test scanned over 10million search results from Google and Bing, and noted that Google provided just 272 links to harmful websites.

To put that in perspective, you would have to open 36,764 links from the search giant to find one with malware. Bing, however, returned 1,285 dangerous links. That’s one bad result every 7,782 searches – or five times more common than on Google.

There’s some good news for Bing, however – it did much better than Russia’s no. 1 search provider Yandex. The native Russian site returned 3,330 (from 13 million search results), meaning that there was one malicious link every 3,903 results. That’s twice as bad as Bing and nine times worse than Google. Ouch.

The bad news

Unfortunately, you’ll probably run into malicious search results more often than these numbers suggest. This is because malware websites use advanced Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques to ensure that their webpages appear near the start of a search engine’s results.

Google and Bing do lots of things to stop these results, but unfortunately cannot always stay ahead of criminals trying to list a malicious website. The task is an impossible one – how can Google effectively monitor the web for threats, when new threats are made all the time?

Our advice is to use Google, because it’s clearly displaying less malware than Bing. However, you shouldn’t solely rely on search engines for your safety – you’ve got to ensure that your computer’s security package is up-to-date. Otherwise it won’t matter what search engine you use – eventually something could slip through the gap. After all, clicking on 36,000 search results isn’t uncommon in a lifetime of surfing.

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