Google, in another showcase of its love for Internet security, discovered a strain of malware infecting Windows computers. Apparently, while doing routine maintenance at one of their data centers, Google noticed a lot of strange search behavior. After discussing it with various security firms, the company discovered the malware. Now, people using infected computers will be notified with a big honking warning message the next time they search through Google.com.
Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, explained it with a post on his Google+ profile: “If you go to Google and do a search (any word will do) right now, check to see whether you get a ‘Your computer appears to be infected’ warning at the top of the search results. If you see the message, you need to clean up the infection from your machine. We’re trying this as an experiment to alert and protect consumers that we believe have infected machines.”
Google discovered that the malware forces infected computers to send search queries to Google through a series of proxies, which are intermediaries in the connection. While sending data through a string of proxies can be useful, especially to secret agents bouncing their info all over the globe to hide their location, not being in control of where your own data is going isn’t exactly secure. And while you might not care who knows about your search for “Corgi puppies” on Google, you’d probably not be happy with your bank log-in info making a bunch of unsolicited stops before arriving at the proper destination.
Damian Menscher, who wrote the Google Blog post announcing the discovery, said it was all part of Google’s quest for a secure Internet.
“The Internet brings remarkable benefits to society,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, some people use it for harm and their own gain at the expense of others. We believe in the power of the web and information, and we work every day to detect potential abuse of our services and ward off attacks.”
As of now, doing a simple Google search of anything you like (click here for the aforementioned puppies) is enough to find if your computer is infected or not. If so, Google’s warning also offers help in clearing the virus.