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This site may harm your computer…

A while ago I was checking out the search engine rankings on one of my websites. I did a Google search for the site and was shocked to find that the site had a warning message above the listing which said, “This site may harm your computer”. The link to my website wasn’t even clickable.  Yikes! I checked my email and sure enough I had the following email from Google Search Quality:


Dear site owner or webmaster of mysitename .net,

We recently discovered that some of your pages can cause users to be
infected with malicious software. We have begun showing a warning page
to users who visit these pages by clicking a search result on Google.com.
Below is an example URL on your site which can cause users to be
infected (space inserted to prevent accidental clicking in case your
mail client auto-links URLs):

http://www.mysitename .net/

Here is a link to a sample warning page:
(this link has since been removed)

We strongly encourage you to investigate this immediately to protect
your visitors. Although some sites intentionally distribute malicious
software, in many cases the webmaster is unaware because:

1) the site was compromised
2) the site doesn’t monitor for malicious user-contributed content
3) the site displays content from an ad network that has a malicious

If your site was compromised, it’s important to not only remove the
malicious (and usually hidden) content from your pages, but to also
identify and fix the vulnerability. We suggest contacting your hosting
provider if you are unsure of how to proceed. StopBadware also has a
resource page for securing compromised sites:

Once you’ve secured your site, you can request that the warning be
removed by visiting
http://www.stopbadware.org/home/review and
requesting a review. StopBadware and Google will jointly investigate
and reply to you with our findings. If your site is no longer harmful
to users, we will remove the warning.

Google Search Quality Team


I knew that I wasn’t distributing any malware. On my home page I noticed a weird javascript error in my browser. I knew the page should not have any errorrs. I uploaded a new copy of the page and then the javascript error went away.  After investigating it turned out that I had a script with incorrect file permissions set and this allowed someone to go in and install malware on my website without my knowledge.

I have a lot of websites so I didn’t catch on to this. I’m very glad that Google advised me of the situation. The last thing I want to do is to give viruses to my site visitors. I fixed the file permissions problem and made sure my website was secure again.

Next I visited the Stopbadware site and requested a review. I explained how my site was hacked through the script and how I fixed the permissions issue. The next day I received a confirmation that they checked my site and it was free from badware. The message was removed from the search results in a about a week. 



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March 16th, 2008 at 7:11 am

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