While the candidates of the US presidential election are locking horns in the battle for the White House, cybercriminals are taking advantage of public interest to lure Internet users into downloading malicious content.
According to McAfee, if you're backing Barack Obama in the elections, it's best to back him with caution in cyberspace as research shows his name is associated with more unsafe web sites than rival John McCain. However, just like in the polls, it's not a landslide victory as McCain is running close behind.
Searching for the latest on the political race can put your PC at serious risk from online threats. If you enjoy watching clips of your favourite candidate beware of the keywords "Barack Obama download" and "John McCain download", as McAfee has discovered these are most likely to bring up unsafe web sites – sites offering free screensavers pose a particular threat.
Searching for information using the term "US presidential elections" also yields risky results. In many cases, these seemingly innocent web sites are loaded with malware, spyware and viruses to infiltrate your computer for the purposes of making money or committing ID theft.
Cybercrooks capitalising on current events is nothing new. McAfee saw similar incidents earlier in the year when attackers used the upcoming Beijing Olympics as a means to distribute malware. Players in the Euro 2008 tournament also proved irresistible to criminals as fans went online looking for news of their footballing heroes.
This is not the first instance of election-themed cyber crime either. In February of this year, McAfee detected attacks which attempted to tempt users into downloading videos of the electoral candidate Hilary Clinton that actually resulted in a malicious file download.
The five most dangerous US presidential election search terms are: Barack Obama download; John McCain download; US presidential elections; John McCain foreign policy; and Barack Obama foreign policy.