Google Adds Extra Security Notifications in Search Results

In the past, Google has been known to give users of its search engine some added security through warning messages about sites that may have been infected with malware. The search engine’s messages stating that a site may harm your computer have been a big help, but Google decided last week to take its notification system one step further. As a result of Google’s extra efforts, users of its search engine will now see hacked site notifications in their search results.

Google’s new hacked site notifications will only appear in search results when necessary. If the search engine believes that a site within its results may have been compromised by a third party, a notification will appear below the site’s main link that states, “This site may be compromised.” If the user clicks on the notification link, they will be sent to an article in Google’s Help Center that further explains the possible threat. 

Google’s Help Center article explains why a site’s search result may have prompted such a warning to appear. Per its own article, Google states that the hacked site notification is added to a search result when a third party may have taken control of a site without the original owner’s permission. 

When hackers take control of or compromise a site, a variety of things may happen. They could add new links or pages to the site. They could also change the contents of certain pages on the site to trick visitors into giving out personal information. This is called phishing, and it is one method hackers use to obtain sensitive information such as credit card numbers. For example, a hacker could add a form to a page that looks legitimate asking for credit card information or other data. Once a user enters their information, it falls into the hands of the hacker, allowing them to use it for personal gain. 

Besides phishing, hackers can also compromise sites for spamming purposes if they wish to gain higher search engine rankings. Doing so exposes them to more viewers, which gives them a better chance to spread their malware or other campaigns to more computers.

The newest hacked site notifications differ from the previous “This site may harm your computer” messages. The older harmful site notifications appear when Google detects that a site may be hosting malware. The “This site may be compromised” warning appears if a site may have been hacked, but Google did not detect any malware. It should be noted that Google’s detection system is not completely foolproof, but it does give its search engine users some extra peace of mind when surfing the net.  Furthermore, the notifications tip off users to proceed with caution before clicking possible bad links.

If you see such notifications in your search results, Google’s Help Center article advises that you should contact the site’s webmaster. The webmaster can look into the matter and hopefully fix the problem. You can continue to visit the site, but do so with caution. To protect yourself even further, make sure that your programs, such as Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader, are running with their latest security updates installed. Also, make sure that you are using the latest version of your Internet browser.

For more on this topic, visit http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/12/new-hacked-site-notifications-in-search.html

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