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The 17 most dangerous places on the internet

They're not the usual suspects... you may be surprised

The scariest sites on the net? They're not the ones you might suspect. Here's what to watch for and how to stay safe, in our list of the 17 scariest places on the internet.

Threat 7: Geolocation - your smartphone and perhaps other parties know where you are

The place: Your smartphone

The smartphone market is still in its infancy, really, and so are the threats. One possible concern is the use - or abuse - of geolocation. Although plenty of legitimate uses for location data exist, the potential for inappropriate uses also exists. In one case, a game listed on the Android Market was in reality a client for a spy app. In a less invidious example, a site called pleaserobme.com showed that - for a time - a stream of FourSquare check-ins indicated that a person was away from their home (the site's goal, mind you, wasn't to condone theft, but to raise awareness of the issue). Apple recently updated its privacy policy to reflect changes in how it handles location data in iOS 4. The policy now states that "to provide location-based services on Apple products, Apple and our partners and licensees may collect, use and share precise location data".

If you have to go there: Be particular about the location-based sites, apps, and services that you use. As shown in the screenshot at right services such as Yelp provide good examples of useful location-aware apps. On the other hand, weigh the privacy implications of services like FourSquare or the new Facebook Places feature, and consider how much you feel comfortable divulging.

Threat 8: 'Poisoned' search engine results that go to malware-carrying websites

The place: Search engines

Search engine poisoning is the practice of building tainted sites or pages that are designed to rank high in a search on a given topic. For example, according to a recent study by the security firm McAfee, 19 percent of search results for 'Cameron Diaz and screensavers' had some sort of malicious payload. Breaking news topics and Facebook are also common search targets for attackers.

If you have to go there: Pick and choose which sites to go to. Don't just blindly click search results; check each URL first to make sure that it really leads to the site you want. Although any site can be hacked, visiting the Washington Post's story on a hot news topic, for example, is probably a wiser choice than following a link to a site you've never heard of before.

NEXT PAGE: Malicious PDFs

  1. They're not the usual suspects
  2. Torrent sites
  3. Your smartphone
  4. Malicious PDFs
  5. Fake antivirus software
  6. 'Free electronics' sites
  7. What happens when you surf unprotected
  8. Tips from the pros


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