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Making the dreaded blacklist: Google susses out sites with Malware

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Web-based businesses take care: if your site is infected with malware, people will find out quickly. In particular, if Internet search engine Google detects persistent malware on a site, it will block the site, freezing traffic up until the problem is fixed.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - If Google lists you as "infected," Web-based businesses can say goodbye to their customers until the problem is resolved. Constantly scanning the web's 60 trillion URLs for malware and phishing scams, if Google finds you culpable - you will face the consequences.

"If Google blacklists an infected Web site, you're basically off the Internet until the Web site is fixed," Peter Jensen, CEO of StopTheHacker.com says.

Google estimates that it flags and quarantines 10,000 Web sites daily. While it officially doesn't use the term "blacklist," Google also flags suspicious URLs typed into browsers. The search engine Bing, run by Microsoft, treats infected sites in a similar fashion.

Understandably, blacklisting can quickly decimate a small firm's reputation and sales.

"Businesses say they're not at fault and shouldn't be penalized. Google [says] it wants to keep the Internet safe for its users," Jensen says. His firm is contacted 20 or 30 times a day by businesses that have been blacklisted.

Google spokesman Jason Freidenfelds emphasizes this. "About one billion people receive protection against phishing and malware every day because of the warnings we show users about unsafe Web sites," he said.

Margo Schlossberg, who owns an online handbag business had her site hacked in September. A Google search for her Web site still says, "This site may be hacked." Traffic to her site dropped 50 percent in the past month and her sales have been minimal.

"It's the worst time to go through this," Schlossberg says. "The holiday season is very important for my sales, but now I've been blacklisted by Google."

Schlossberg hired an expert to fix her site, which cost $1,000 - although it can cost as much as $10,000 depending on the extent of the damage. She's finally ready to resubmit her site to Google.

Cleaning up infected sites involves these steps: Identify the malware and how to remove it, determine where the attack originated, change passwords and relaunch the Web site once it's clean.

Google then directs infected sites to its Webmaster Tools. It says it takes about a day to restore Web sites once it confirms they're clean.

A company may think its site is clean, but Google's review will find otherwise. This can draw out the process.

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