Are you aware that the world’s most used search engine, Google, runs a number of diagnostic routines on all its search results before they are presented to you? And that you can get some slightly odd, not to say worrying diagnoses from it?
This is all part of Google’s Safe Browsing initiative, part public service, part Google defence against US lawsuits. What Google is trying to do is head off malware and viruses that may be presented in its search results and give the user a heads up before they go there. Forewarned is fore-armed as they say, but ultimately it is your choice whether to go there.
I tried looking up the site for Full Circle Magazine, to which I contribute, only to get this slightly alarming result:
This site may be compromised.
Full Circle is a free, independent, monthly magazine dedicated to the Ubuntu family of Linux operating systems. Each month, it contains helpful how-to articles …
What we’re interested in is the line This site may be compromised. Fortunately this links to the Google Diagnostic page http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=fullcirclemagazine.org which gives you a full break down of what the Google ‘bots think is going on:
Diagnostic page for fullcirclemagazine.org
What is the current listing status for fullcirclemagazine.org?
This site is not currently listed as suspicious.
What happened when Google visited this site?
Of the 17 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 0 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2012-11-09, and suspicious content was never found on this site within the past 90 days.
Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
Over the past 90 days, fullcirclemagazine.org did not appear to function as an intermediary for the infection of any sites.
Has this site hosted malware?
No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days.
- Return to the previous page.
- If you are the owner of this web site, you can request a review of your site using Google Webmaster Tools. More information about the review process is available in Google’s Webmaster Help Center.
This is all very useful information, with potentially life-saving impact on avoiding malware, identity theft and data loss – except in this case we have a false positive on the diagnosis. So what’s going on here? We’re still not sure. The Full Circle site RSS feeds do appear to have been compromised at some time in recent weeks, but the Google diagnostics don’t have the canned response to go to this level of detail.
That said, it is some comfort to know that diagnostics are going on behind the scenes and a good audit trail exists to defy the crackers and criminals out there. AJS