Sunday 13 February 2011

Google's New Malware Warning

When you're in the business of directing people to websites, not taking them to sites riddled with harmful malware is a priority. As the world's most popular search engine and with a very important reputation at stake, Google is focusing on keeping its search results clean, or at least letting its users know when search results are suspicious and potentially dangerous.

Google now displays a warning for search results that appear to have been hacked or compromised. Specifically, on search results pages, the notification sits below each suspicious website's title as a hyperlink that says, "This site may be compromised."

Google started warning users of malware-laden sites years ago. Since 2006, Google has been prompting users with the warning, "this website might harm your computer," when they try to visit sites that are suspected of distributing malware. With infected search results continuing to deceive unsuspecting web surfers, Google has decided to add an extra warning.

On a support page dedicated to explaining the new warning, Google clarifies the distinction between the older warning and the new one. The older one (i.e. "this website might harm your computer") shows when Google's malware detection system determines that a site is "potentially hosting malware." Google displays the new warning: "this site may be compromised" when it suspects that a site has been hacked or compromised while not detecting any malware.

Hackers typically compromise a site with a couple of goals in mind. Their intention could be phishing, which consists of tricking users into sharing personal details like credit card information. It could also be spamming, a practice that violates search engine quality guidelines in order to fraudulently achieve a higher page rank.

Google is working closely with webmasters who believe their websites have unjustly been classified as hacked or compromised. Such a label could be devastating for a business. On the other hand, as an individual, it's better to err on the side of caution. Update your Antivirus/Antispyware software and watch out for hacked websites!

Note: If for some reason you have not got Antivirus/Antispyware software installed on your computer, may I suggest using either PC Tools or AVG. Both of these packages offer a wide range of powerful tools to protect your computer against online threats.

Related articles:
Does Google Consider Your Site Safe?
Google Adds New Security Layer To SERPs

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Be safe online!


  1. Thank you Derek for this enlightening and vital information. Better safe than sorry.

  2. Thanks for this info, Derek. Sometimes I am really cautious about clicking certain links for this very reason! Good to know there is something to be done about it.

  3. I just started noticing this earlier this week, so I appreciate you being so timely with your explanation of the process. The odd thing is that sites I have previously visited with no problems are now coming up w/ that warning block alert. I was dumb enough to click through anyway on one of the sites, as it had been safe just the day before. Big mistake - my laptop was immediately hit w/ a Trojan virus. Lesson learned. As Debra mentioned, better safe than sorry. It was a costly mistake, to the tune of $165 to get my hard drive wiped, cleaned of viral activity and everything reinstalled, and I'm still finished up w/ all of that. Great article, as always!

    ~ Dawn

  4. *still finishing up w/ all of that* pardon the typo up there!

  5. No problem Dawn about the typo :) I hope you now have a good anti-virus/anti-spyware program installed on your computer.

    Most AV software (including the two mentioned above) install a browser tool-bar which will inform you if a site is safe to visit. If you haven't got one installed on your browser, it's definitely worth installing one.


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