Is Your Site Listed As Malware In Search Results? We Have Some Tips For You [Webmaster Tips]
By on October 24th, 2008

Google has been pretty serious about security of search results, so that users do not fall prey to malware or virus attacks. In order to make people aware of problematic sites, Google shows a message This site may harm your computermessage in the search results for problematic websites.

google-malware-alert-search-engine

Related: Online Security Tips How to keep your computer secure and safe

If the above message is showing up for your website, you should be pretty concerned about it, since many people may not visit your website looking at the alert, and even if they do they may see another alert discouraging users from visiting your website.

google-malware-alert

The Google Webmaster Blog posted some useful information on the malware alerts, here is a simple FAQ we have created, that answers most of the questions you may have about such issues.

Why Do Users See This Alert?

The bad news is that her website or the server that it runs on probably has a security vulnerability, most likely from some out-of-date software. That vulnerability has been exploited and malicious code has been added to your website. It’s most likely an invisible script or iframe that pulls content from another website that tries to attack any computer that views the page. If the attack succeeds, then viruses, spyware, key loggers, botnets, and other nasty stuff will get installed.

Should You Be Concerned About This Alert?

If you see the warning on a site in Google’s search results, it’s a good idea to pay attention to it. Google has automatic scanners that are constantly looking for these sorts of web pages.

But My Website Is Pretty Well Known?

The automatic scanners make unbiased decisions based on the malicious content of the pages, not the reputation of the webmaster.

There have been warnings on the websites of banks, sports teams, and corporate and government websites.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Prevention is always better than cure, and like your personal computer, it is necessary to stay on top of your server and softwares installed on it, if you own the server, keep abreast of vulnerabilities that may have been discovered for softwares you run on your server and apply patches as and when they are released.

If you are running on shared or managed hosting, make sure your hosting provider applies all the available patches on a time to time basis.

How Do You Know If Your Site Has Been Affected?

Google has some useful tools that tell you if your website has been affected, to check on it to see if you have any vulnerabilities. The best thing to do is to regularly visit your Google Webmasters account, as it lists out the URLs that were scanned and found to be infected.

On the other hand Google also provides you with a online tool to check if your site has been affected, to diagnose your site visit the URL below, just replace techie-buzz.comwith your own website URL:

http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=techie-buzz.com

If your site is clean you will see a message as shown in the image below (Click to enlarge).

techie-buzz-safe-browsing-diagonistics-clean-results

If you do not see a clean chit for your website, read the next question in the FAQ to know what you should do.

What Do You Do To Get Rid Of This Problem?

There are some resources to help clean things up. The Google Webmaster Central blog has some tips and a quick security checklist for webmasters. Stopbadware.org has great information, and their forums have a number of helpful and knowledgeable volunteers who may be able to help.

Now That You Have Cleaned Your Website. What Next?

Once you’ve cleaned up your website, use Google’s Webmaster Tools to request a malware review. The automatic systems will rescan your website and the warning will be removed if the malware is gone.

How Long Will It Take For My Website To Get Reviewed and Cleared?

The original scanning and the review process are fully automated. The systems analyze large portions of the internet, which is big place, so the review may not happen immediately. Ideally, the label will be removed within a few hours. At its longest, the process should take a day or so.

Do You Get Advanced Warning From Google?

When the label is applied, Google usually emails the website owners and then posts a warning in Google’s Webmaster Tools. But no warning is given ahead of time before the label is applied – so a webmaster can’t quickly clean up the site before a warning is applied.

So you will need to regularly visit your Webmaster account to keep abreast of any malware labels being applied to your website or blog.

Summarizing

If the labels are applied to your website, it is a pretty serious thing, since it can damage your website’s reputation and make people shy away from visiting it.

The best measure is to always keep your website software up-to-date and now allow any illegal access to it, it is in the best interests that you visit your Google Webmasters account at-least once every couple of days to check if there are any problems with your account.

If there are follow the steps we have listed above to get your site cleared as quickly as possible.

Do share and bookmark this post for future reference, you never know when disaster will come upon you.

Image Credit: Science Text

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Author: Keith Dsouza Google Profile for Keith Dsouza
I am the editor-in-chief and owner of Techie Buzz. I love coding and have contributed to several open source projects in the past. You can know more about me and my projects by visiting my Personal Website. I am also a social networking enthusiast and can be found active on twitter, you can follow Keith on twitter @keithdsouza. You can click on my name to visit my Google+ profile.

Keith Dsouza has written and can be contacted at keith@techie-buzz.com.

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