Google Adds Hacked Site Alarm for Search Results

Google has added a new warning to steer users from compromised sites in search results.

Google has added extra notification to search results to alert users when they are in danger of traveling to a compromised site.

When Google believes a site has been hacked, a sentence will appear under the search result stating, "This site may be compromised." Google provides a similar warning to steer users away from sites found to be infected with malware.

The warnings in part address the challenge caused by black hat search engine optimization (SEO). Attackers often use SEO techniques as a means to get victims to come to their sites. Using tactics such as keyword stuffing and link farming, attackers can abuse search engines to boost the search rankings of malicious pages.

"We've provided notices for malware for years, which also involve a separate warning page," blogged Gideon Wald, associate product manager at Google. "Now we're expanding the search results notifications to help people avoid sites that may have been compromised and altered by a third party, typically for spam. When a user visits a site, we want her to be confident the information on that site comes from the original publisher."

By clicking the alert, the users can get more information about the notice, Wald wrote. Users can also click the result itself and be taken to the site if they wish.

"We use a variety of automated tools to detect common signs of a hacked site as quickly as possible," Wald blogged. "When we detect something suspicious, we'll add the notification to our search results. We'll also do our best to contact the site's webmaster via their Webmaster Tools account and any contact email addresses we can find on the webpage. We hope webmasters will also appreciate these notices, because it will help you more quickly discover when someone may be abusing your site so you can correct the problem."

Google did not say specifically what sets off the alert in time for publication; however, Wald noted that Webmasters that want to have it removed can request a review.

"Of course, we also understand that webmasters may be concerned that these notices are impacting their traffic from search," Wald added. "Rest assured, once the problem has been fixed, the warning label will be automatically removed from our search results, usually in a matter of days."