Safety warning in Google’s search results – protecting your computer

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Most of us agree that the Google search engine is the best in the world. At the time of writing, Google accounts for about 60% of the searches conducted in the world. The competition, Yahoo!, MSN (Live or Bing… or whatever they want to call it today), has been left far behind.

The steady rise of Google can be attributed to several factors including highly relevant search results, a simple no-nonsense interface and the gargantuan number of pages in the Google index. In fact, the word “google” has become synonymous for searching and, if I’m not mistaken, has already entered the dictionary.

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(For those who are quick to retort, the word for a very large number is Googol and not google. Googol is the digit one followed by a hundred zeros. This word has been in dictionaries for some time now.)

Though Google may be smug about its position as the leader, it continually modifies the search engine (the indexing and ranking algorithms) to provide a better experience for its users. Any search engine optimiser will tell you that tricking the Google search engine works for a very limited time. However, the price that one can pay for these black-hat techniques is huge – entire web sites have been removed from the Google search results because they were employing unethical means to get to the top of rankings; the most famous of these was the web site.

Safer search with Google – This site may harm your computer

Today I came across a “This site may harm your computer” warning right in the Google search results listing. I find it strange that Google issues this warning but continues to show the web site it the search results. Why not remove the web site if they think it’s going to harm the users’ computers?

Warning displayed in Google search results - This site may harm your computer

Anyway, it just goes to prove the efforts Google puts in the search engine department. Bravo!

By the way, if the warning doesn’t shake you and you continue to move forward by clicking on the web site link, Google displays a full-page warning – refer image below.

The full-page Google warning - This web site may harm your computer

On this full-page warning, Google provides a brief to the problem. There is also a “Safe Browsing diagnostic page” link which offers details as to why the web site has been marked as such. In the case I followed, the web site was labelled suspicious because it was responsible for distributing malware – software that harms your computer. The malware is downloaded without visitor consent by simply opening the web site.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Yesterday, January 31 2009, for a little while, the “This site may harm your computer” was displayed alongside each and every web site listed in the Google search engine result. Google admitted to its mistake which was attributed to a human error. The issue was fairly quickly – duration of the problem for any particular user was approximately 40 minutes as per Google’s Official blog.