Yahoo Turns on SearchScan Security Feature

If you used Yahoo to perform your morning searches today, you may have noticed a message similar to this one at the top of your search results.

This warning is the result of a new feature called SearchScan. Yahoo has released the feature in an effort to protect its users from viruses, spyware and spam.

According to Yahoo, SearchScan is the result of a partnership with McAfee, Inc. and utilizes McAfee’s SiteAdvisor technology to identify “risky websites” that appear in Yahoo’s search results. Yahoo says SearchScan will identify three types of risks:

1. Browser Exploits
Sites that automatically trigger a malicious download when a user visits the site. But you’re unlikely to see this warning listed in your search results – Yahoo says it will automatically remove these sites from its results.

2. Dangerous Downloads
Sites that offer potentially dangerous software downloads, which include viruses, spyware or adware.

3. Unsolicited Email
Sites that send spammy emails or share email addresses with third parties without the users consent.

The SearchScan popup info box provides a “More details” link that points to McAfee’s Site Advisor site, providing more information on why the site was flagged. There is also a “Site owner support” link for webmasters who want to protest.

By default SearchScan is turned on for all Yahoo users in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Spain. But the feature is optional.

Awhile back, we looked at the growing trend of search engine safety. For Yahoo, SearchScan appears to be the next step in making its existing users feel safer, in addition to trying to entice new users.