Having reported around this time last year on website owners approaching the validity of website analytics software with caution or risk spending thousands of pounds based on distorted information, we’ve now come across another referring website, Searchlock, that could potentially be skewing your traffic statistics and sending you to unsafe websites that could play havoc with your computer.
On the face of it, “SearchLock” looks to be a reliable tool that will make sure that your Internet searches are safe and protected. However, on closer inspection by our search engine marketing experts, this program is a potentially unwanted program and browser hijacker.
The official Searchlock website claims that “SearchLock automatically detects when you are about to perform a potentially unsafe or non-private search and automatically redirects your query to SearchLock's privacy-safe results page.” Furthermore, it’s also been described as “a free browser extension that is designed to block unwanted snooping when you use the major search engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo. The extension works with Firefox, Chrome and Safari browsers, keeping your personal information safe and out of the hands of unauthorized people”. All seems rather helpful and if this were true, you could pat yourself on the back for finding a useful online tool. However, the truth is rather different.
In reality, this program is an ad-supported application which receives income from redirecting you to its affiliate websites. This effectively means that every time you use this supposedly safe search engine, you see modified search results featuring links to sponsored websites. The threat lies in the fact that there is no way of knowing whether you will be redirected to a safe or bogus website that may lead to your PC becoming infected or other potentially unwanted programs being installed on your computer.
Searchlock 3 is the latest version of SearchLock, which redirects its victims to Results.searchlock3.com, Searchlock3.com and similar websites which have a tendency to promote potentially malicious websites. Typically, this application spreads via free programs, such as audio editors, download managers, and media players. However, IT security experts have warned users about SearchLocks's distribution thru Skype network and fake Java or Flash Player updates.
Another aspect to know about Searchlock other than the redirects, is the feature of installing cookies on your browser and therefore tracking your browsing-related information. Without realising it, you may be sharing information about your browsing habits with third-party entities. What is more, it may even modify your browser in a way that prevents you from switching back to your old browser.
What do you do to avoid being drawn into Searchlock? Nothing. Literally, nothing. Searchlock tries to lure you in by sending Ghost Referral Traffic to your Google Analytics account, and hopes that you notice and have enough curiosity to explore their website. It shows up like this, along with many other “ghosts” that we have previously tried to alert you to:
The standard “ghost test” is: look for traffic that is some or all of these – 100% new users, 1 page per session, 100% bounce rate, average session duration 00:00:00 seconds.