Google Adds 'Hacked Site' Alert To Search Results

New feature an expansion of Safe Browsing efforts

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

December 21, 2010

2 Min Read

Google now includes an alert for websites that might have been hacked in its search results -- a "This site may be compromised" link will appear under the site's link.

The notification is for sites that might have been compromised by an outsider for spam or other abuse, said Gideon Wald, associate product manager for Google, in a blog post that includes a screen shot of the new feature. Google plans to alert the hacked site's webmaster, as well, Wald said. The search engine giant already provides a notification in search results for sites that are potentially serving up malware.

"When our malware detection system classifies a site as potentially hosting malware, we show a message in our search results. (This is the page you're used to seeing, and clicking the title of the result leads to an interstitial page.) When we believe a site may be hacked or compromised but have not detected malware, we display, 'This site may be compromised' as an alert. Since our systems have not detected malware, clicking on the title of the result leads directly to the target website with no interstitial page. However, in both cases it would be wise to proceed with caution," Google said in a post explaining the features.

When users click the new "This site may be compromised" link, they get directed to more information in the Help Center. The websites flagged as compromised are still accessible.

"We use a variety of automated tools to detect common signs of a hacked site as quickly as possible. When we detect something suspicious, we'll add the notification to our search results. We'll also do our best to contact the site's webmaster via their Webmaster Tools account and any contact email addresses we can find on the webpage. We hope webmasters will also appreciate these notices, because it will help you more quickly discover when someone may be abusing your site so you can correct the problem," Google's Wald blogged.

Once the compromised site is cleaned up, Google will remove the warning label from the search results, "usually in a matter of days," according to Google. The new features are basically an expansion of security efforts Google first launched in 2006 with Safe Browsing.

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Dark Reading Staff

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