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Google Enhances Search Results with Malware Warnings

Google is sending out alerts to searchers about risky sites before they move to visit them, by incorporating malware warnings with search results.

To cite an example, while searching for 'beautiful free screensaver' a result comes up from a hit - elitesavers.com that flashes a Google message saying the site could harm the computer. The message links straight to a Google help document that explains the message in greater detail.

The Google Web Search Help Center explains that the warning message accompanies search results that Google has identified as infected sites capable of installing malware on the user's PC. Google assures safety for its users when they do the search. And Google is also constantly on the job for identifying malicious sites and to increase security for its users, says the message.

It further says that malicious software often gets installed on computers without the user's knowledge or consent when he/she visit such sites. Malicious software could be programs that delete data on user's PC, steal sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers, or alter search results, it says in the end.

Google's warning mechanism prevents dangerous sites from opening even when a searcher clicks on the title. Google warns that the site is risky and recommends to visit some other search result or to make a different query. According to Google, alternatively one can visit the site by copying the URL and pasting it on the address bar, a task that is not trivial for any ordinary computer user.

When McAfee conducted a study in December 2006, it found that 41.4% of risky sites show poor e-mailing; 24.5% carry malicious downloads; 26.8% are scam sites; 32.3% connect to other dangerous sites; and 3.0% have exploit codes. Further 4.2% of Google hits are risky sites.

Commenting on Google's move, security experts hope it will encourage other search engines to do similar implementations. After all search engines need to provide healthy search experience and not to send the users to websites that can cause them unmanageable trouble. But not long enough webmasters claiming innocence may come out protesting such a label on their search results.

Related article: Google Rectifies Gmail flaw in Three Days

» SPAMfighter News - 2/23/2007

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