Google Issuing Malware Warnings To Searchers

Jul 21, 2011 • 9:32 am | comments (13) by | Filed Under Google Search Engine

Google is no longer just giving users search results when they conduct a search at Google. They are now looking for malware on your computer and if they find it, issuing you a warning that your computer appears to be infected with a of form of malware or a virus.

The warning looks like this (click on it to increase the size):

Google Malware Warning

Google has said:

  • The malware appears to have gotten onto users' computers from one of roughly a hundred variants of fake antivirus, or "fake AV" software that has been in circulation for a while. We aren't aware of a common name for the malware.
  • We believe a couple million machines are affected by this malware.
  • We've heard from a number of you that you're thinking about the potential for an attacker to copy our notice and attempt to point users to a dangerous site instead. It's a good security practice to be cautious about the links you click, so the spirit of those comments is spot-on. We thought about this, too, which is why the notice appears only at the top of our search results page. Falsifying the message on this page would require prior compromise of that computer, so the notice is not a risk to additional users.
  • In the meantime, we've been able to successfully warn hundreds of thousands of users that their computer is infected. These are people who otherwise may never have known.

Google has been labeling sites that have malware on them for years. Now Google is warning searchers if their computers have malware. I should note, this isn't a replacement for virus and malware software but it doesn't hurt. If anything, it takes away people from their original search, making Google less money and advertisers less money. But at what cost?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld and Google Blogoscoped Forums.

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