About badware warnings

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Some of you have asked about the warnings we show searchers when they click on search results leading to sites that distribute malicious software. As a site owner, you may be concerned about the possibility of your site being flagged. We want to assure you that we take your concerns very seriously, and that we are very careful to avoid flagging sites incorrectly. It's our goal to avoid sending people to sites that would compromise their computers. These exploits often result in real people losing real money. Compromised bank accounts and stolen credit card numbers are just the tip of this identity theft iceberg.

If your site has been flagged for badware, we let you know this in Webmaster Tools. Often, we find that webmasters aren't aware that their sites have been compromised, and this warning in search results is a surprise. Fixing a compromised site can be quite hard. Simply cleaning up the HTML files is seldom sufficient. If a rootkit has been installed, for instance, nothing short of wiping the machine and starting over may work. Even then, if the underlying security hole isn't also fixed, they may be compromised again within minutes.

We are looking at ways to provide additional information to webmasters whose sites have been flagged, while balancing our need to keep malicious site owners from hiding from Google's badware protection. We aim to be responsive to any misidentified sites too. If your site has been flagged, you'll see information on the appeals process in Webmaster Tools. If you can't find anything malicious on your site and believe it was misidentified, go to https://stopbadware.org/home/review to request an evaluation. If you'd like to discuss this with us or have ideas for how we can better communicate with you about it, please post in our webmaster discussion forum.