Did you know approximately one billion people use Google Safe Browsing and that it is part of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox Internet browsers? And did you know that Google Chrome is the most widely used Internet browser in the world and that Firefox has between 16% and 21% of worldwide usage? And did you know that Google can have your website pages indexed with a “This site may harm your computer” warning message showing immediately below your webpages title and url on search results if listed as suspicious? What impact do you think that has on customers looking for your services online?
Time to time when we come across a website listed as suspicious we contact the business management to let them know about it. And on every occasion the business management is simply not aware of it… What happened?
At some stage Google detected suspicious activity on the website and in order to protect Internet visitors are displaying a warning message on search results and web browsers. What is detected on the website is the presence of software that might harm the Internet visitor’s computer or use it to attack other computers e.g. the presence of badware. The website may also have been compromised through other websites hosted on the same server. Even good sites can be infected without the owner’s knowledge. As Google points out many of the thousands of new unsafe sites detected every day are legitimate websites that have been compromised.
Websites compromised with malware install malicious software on Internet users’ machines to steal private information, perform identity theft, or attack other computers. When people visit these sites, software that takes over their computer is downloaded without their knowledge. It’s easy to imagine the impact such threat can have on customers finding on Google search results businesses whose websites have been compromised when looking for products or services online or information about a particular business.
If your website has been infected, the first thing you should do is to take it offline until the badware – the source of the problem – has been identified and removed. Bear in mind if your customers access your site while it is still infected, their computers may be put at risk. Here are the initial steps to take as soon as you’ve been notified your website is putting your customers’ computer at risk.
- Take your website offline
- Make sure any computer that has admin access to the website is virus free
- Make sure the server on which your website is hosted is also virus free
- Make sure you are running the latest version of the CMS your website is running on (if any)
- Change all your website passwords
Once you’ve completed all the steps above and once you’re confident your website is free of badware the fastest way to remove Google warnings would be to request a malware review from Google Webmaster Tools which usually takes less than a day. If Google re-scans your website and does not find any badware, the warnings can be removed quickly.
At last here’s a video from Google which explains how and why websites can be infected and that reviews options for recovery. And remember if your website has been compromised the first to let you know about it should be either your web-design company or your web-hosting company.
To check if your website has been infected enter http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=your_website_url in the URL bar. If your website is listed as suspicious and want professional assistance feel free to contact us.