Google Adds Malware Warnings To Search Results

    February 13, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

Google is integrating malware warnings in the search results to warn searchers about risky sites before they go there. In fact, searchers have to work extra hard to get to them.

Results for the phrase "beautiful free screensaver" include a warning with the top result, linking to, reading "This site may harm your computer."

For the clickhappy don’t-pay-attention-types, Google is thoughtful enough to take away the direct link altogether. Clicking on the link takes you to this full-page warning instead of the site itself, advising the surfer to proceed at his own risk.

And if he wishes to proceed, he’s going to have to copy and past the URL into the address bar himself. Hey, it’s not like he wasn’t warned.

The Google Web Search Help Center explains:

This warning message appears with search results that we’ve identified as sites that may install malicious software on your computer. We want our users to feel safer when they search the web, and we’re continuously working to identify such dangerous sites and increase protection for our users.

Now it’s only a matter of time before webmasters come running out protesting such a flag on their search result, claiming innocence. Last month, presumably when this offering was still officially in development, Matt Cutts said, basically, webmasters can spread malicious code even when there are no physical symptoms.

Dr. Cutts, with his best sympathetic face, tells one such webmaster:

It looked like your site might be hosting a WMF exploit that could infect any visitor to your site.

I’ve checked out a quite a few “we don’t have any malware” reports at this point, and I’ve yet to see a false positive — the sites in question have each had some malware on them.

If, however, you really are a victim of vicious rumors, and none of the other cheerleaders will talk to you, Cutts and Google direct you to the link that accompanies the warning, through which a complaint can be filed.

In December, a study released by McAfee Site Advisor, pegs AOL and Ask as the safest search engines in regard to number of dangerous results. Only 3.6 percent of AOL results brought back risky links, and around 4.2 percent of Ask results. Yahoo! had the highest instance of dangerous links.

Sponsored links (8%) were almost three times as likely to link to a malicious website as organic links (3%), according to the study.

(Hat tip to Google Operating System)


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