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Google Under Fire For Website Warnings

Complaints are being made by website operators against Google for falsely deeming their sites as containing malicious software.

At the root of the controversy lies an interstitial page from Google each time a user clicks on a search result link to a website, which according to Google contains malware. The user is cautioned with warning that the website could harm the computer. Google refrains from actually blocking access to the site, merely requiring the user to manually type the URL to continue.

Lately, organizations with the sites given the warning have been protesting that their websites are being falsely named causing embarrassment.

Matt Blatchley an employee of the Greenbush Southeast Kansas Education Service Center in a posting to Google Groups declared that they had no bad software or installs or any other malware to dissuade visitors from viewing the website.

Apart from Google, a service known as Stopbadware.org that supposedly warns visitors to websites with malware is also responsible for the confusion. Apparently the site misterpoll.com was flagged by Stopbadware as being potentially dangerous for visitors. Thus Google search results for misterpoll.com displayed a warning that visiting this website could cause harm to the user's computer.

A post on the Mister Poll blog explained that their website traffic had been very regular and predictable. All of a sudden the traffic plunged to nearly half the volume. Clearly there was some serious problem, which initially could not be identified. On looking around, it was discovered that all Google search results that linked to the website were now carrying a Google advisory warning visitors from visiting it for putting their computers at risk of harm.

Stopbadware.org made a statement in the news published by IDG News Service on January 11, 2007 about the situation being extremely unfortunate for the website owners. But it had been found that website owners were often unaware of their sites containing or linking to badware. It explained that this occurred due to third-party advertising on the website with links to other websites containing malware.

Although it is heartening to learn that Google and Stopbadware take such a great interest in keeping people from access to harmful websites, it is also apparent that the process by which sites are identified as being dangerous and put on the list needs to be improved.

Related article: Google Rectifies Gmail flaw in Three Days

» SPAMfighter News - 1/18/2007

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