Bing leads to 5 times more malware than Google? Not so, says Microsoft

AV-TEST malware results graph Bing vs Google
AV-TEST results of a story that shows Bing leads to far more malware than Google. Microsoft is refuting the claims of the study.AV-TEST

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By Taylor Soper

Microsoft has finally responded to a study claiming that Bing’s search results delivered five times as much malware than Google’s, and its answer is simple: the study is flawed.

Last week, AV-TEST conducted a malware study that analyzed millions of websites and found that Bing was showing much more malware to users than its more popular rival (see graph below).

AV-TEST results of a story that shows Bing leads to far more malware than Google. Microsoft is refuting the claims of the study.AV-TEST

But David Felstead, Senior Development Lead at Bing, responded in a blog post Friday, writing that the study made a mistake by using a Bing API instead of examining the searches directly from Bing.com. This method, Bing says, resulted in misleading results because the API results bypassed its warning system and does not show warning labels.

“Bing actually does prevent customers from clicking on malware infected sites by disabling the link on the results page and showing the below message to stop people from going to the site,” he wrote.

But why does Bing even show them at all if they could be infected?

“We don’t explicitly remove malicious sites from the index because most are legitimate sites that normally don’t host malware but have been hacked,” Felstead writes. “Our research shows that if sites like this remain infected for a long period of time, their ranking will naturally fall because customers won’t click on them.”

While he did say that “this is a highly complex problem that all engines are constantly working to solve,” Felstead pointed out how a Google search of “vacation hotline,” doesn’t give a malware warning, but Bing does.

He added that users will see the warning only once per 10,000 searches on Bing.

“In any case, the overall scale of the problem is very small,” Felstead wrote.

Russian search engine company Yanax also questioned the validity of AV-TEST’s study.

The monthly U.S. search stats from comScore came out for March last week and it showed Google with 67.1 percent of the search market share. Microsoft only has 16.9 percent, a number that’s been growing, albeit slowly.

Microsoft, meanwhile, continues to bash Google with its “Scroogled” campaign, with the latest bombardment focusing on privacy issues with the Google Play Store.

Reach GeekWire staff reporter Taylor Soper at taylor@geekwire.com or on Twitter at @Taylor_Soper.

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