Google Error Describes All Websites as Harmful

Posted on January 31, 2009

Even Google makes mistakes. Earlier today the search engine gave the message "This site may harm your computer" with every single search result. This obviously confused users of the search engine. Google blogged about the error and apologized for the inconvenience.

f you did a Google search between 6:30 a.m. PST and 7:25 a.m. PST this morning, you likely saw that the message "This site may harm your computer" accompanied each and every search result. This was clearly an error, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our users.

What happened? Very simply, human error. Google flags search results with the message "This site may harm your computer" if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously. We do this to protect our users against visiting sites that could harm their computers. We maintain a list of such sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

Google also said it gets its list of websites to flag as malware from Stopbadware.org. The malware flags are important because they can keep web surfers from visiting websites that may put harmful viruses and trojans on their computers. Stopbadware.org has also posted an explanation of the error but its website appears to be down right now.




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