Google adds hacked site warnings to search results

At the tail end of a year that featured several high profile hacker attacks, Google has added an extra warning to its search results to let users know that a website may be under the influence of n’er do wells. Sites Google deems sufficiently suspect will be tagged with the hyperlink warning “This Site May Compromised” under the website’s title.

Google has been warning users of malware threats for years, but this latest alert will let users know if a website may cause harm without users having to download any files.

The warning links to Google’s Help Center where users can get more information about the warning. According to that Help Center page, here’s what Google is on the lookout for:

If a site has been hacked, it typically means that a third party has taken control of the site without the owner’s permission. Hackers may change the content of a page, add new links on a page, or add new pages to the site. The intent can include phishing (tricking users into sharing personal and credit card information) or spamming (violating search engine quality guidelines to rank pages more highly than they should rank).

Failure to heed the warning, and clicking on the link itself will still deliver the webite’s content as usual.

Google says that its new warning system will be completely programmed. “We use a variety of automated tools to detect common signs of a hacked site as quickly as possible,” the company says in a blog posting. “When we detect something suspicious, we’ll add the notification to our search results.”

Google says that once a hacked website is detected, an effort will be made to notify the webmaster who can then address the issue. Once the problem is resolved to Google’s satisfaction, the warning will be removed. Site operators who believe their site has been unjustly tagged can request that Google review its warning.

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