When Your Trusted Search Isn't Particularly Trustworthy

from the whoops dept

Yesterday, GeoTrust got a lot of publicity for launching a special “trustworthy” search engine built on top of AskJeeves. The idea was that when you did a search, it would alert you to potential phishing and scam sites. This seemed pretty pointless, honestly. Phishing scams work through social engineering — tricking users into clicking through and believing they’re logging in to a specific site. They usually don’t work by someone searching for a certain website and then filling in their info. Furthermore, it seems pretty likely that anyone who actually would know enough to use a special anti-phishing search engine also is probably aware of phishing scams and how to avoid them without having to use a special search engine. Of course, to make matters even worse, it didn’t take long at all for some enterprising journalists to spot a scam site marked as “safe” by the new search engine. When your entire system is based on your ability to tell safe sites from bad sites — and even that doesn’t work, it suggests that perhaps the whole idea wasn’t such a good one.

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Comments on “When Your Trusted Search Isn't Particularly Trustworthy”

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Conrad (user link) says:

You know whats WORSE?

When you can go to the site, view “unknown” results, and change them!

For example, I looked up several of the domains I own, and all of them were given the yellow “unknown” mark. Fine.

I then clicked on the site report link, which showed me details about that domain, and gave me the chance to submit a nomination for this domain. I submited a blank positive nomination, and tada, now I am green “verified” domain.

Granted, the domains do have SSL and non-SSL parts, and the secure cert is done through a 3rd party (godaddy). However, being able to change the ranking so easily should tell you about the value of the service.

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