Did Malware Gaffe Dim Google's Glow?

Anyone using Google between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. EST on Saturday saw an interesting message pop up alongside nearly all their search results: “This site may harm your computer.” Users may indeed know that Web sites sometimes harbor suspicious computer code that can dump spyware or worse on their computers, and that Google will raise a red flag for its customers when it finds such a Web site in search results.
But nearly every search result?
A Tangled Web of Explanations:
The initial effort on the part of Google to explain what happened and provide transparency only clouded the issue further. In her first blog post, Meyer explained that Google tracks Web sites that are known to install malware, and that it received its list of harmful sites from a non-profit organization, StopBadware.org. But a StopBadware Blog posting dated 12:31 p.m. EST said that wasn’t the case: “Google has posted an update on their official blog that erroneously states that Google gets its list of URLs from us. This is not accurate. Google generates its own list of badware URLs, and no data that we generate is supposed to affect the warnings in Google’s search listings. We are attempting to work with Google to clarify their statement.”
Ten minutes later, StopBadware’s Maxim Weinstein said contrary to some media reports, Google did not take down all site warnings, even for those Web sites which did carry malware.
Can Google Be Trusted?
How can that happen to a multi-billion-dollar company?
How can somebody bust the code and then they don’t catch it before it goes live, don’t they test it on a beta server?
The incident throws a big spotlight on Google’s reach and how many people rely on its search capabilities at any given time.
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  • It seems we easily forget that the web/Internet or whatever you want to call it is still in it’s infancy or evolving stages and therefore it is not perfect and probably never will.
    You also should consider where Google came from to where they are today and although I am not an investor, Google is a mainstay in my daily life, both business and personal.
    So when I was doing some routine searches during the period cited and saw all the sites were coming up with the warning, I did a search for my own site and sure enough there was a warning on it.
    I was concerned about it possibly causing a loss of traffic and sent a message from the Google help option – I then went on to do other things since I knew they were most likely on top of it and sure enough in a very short period of time (eons for Internet users) the problem was resolved.
    Until someone is able to come up with something better, Google has got the lions share of the Internet searches and, well, that makes them a target for all those bad boys and bad girls out there who have nothing better in their life to do other than try to knock the giant off the hill and gather their 15 nano seconds of fame.

  • I find it reassuring that, when it comes to something as trivial as the inclusion or exclusion of a / by a human operator, google is no better than a mom and pop operation on Main Street. It gives it a more human face of fallibility and, more importantly, it teaches them that hubris is a dangerous cloak to wrap around your reputation. As to the reality of google’s reputation, I used it before and use it still. Even though there was a blip, it remains the best general search engine on the internet.

  • I don’t believe so. While its not perfectly normal for a company like Google to make such an error like this, it still does show they are prone to error, and they were able to respond to the incident pretty quickly. Nonetheless, they should share part of the blame for not recognizing that such an incident could happen, and from a technical standpoint they should re-examine how they test the malware data coming in.

  • I totally agreed with David Marshall. To add to that, Google is not the only site, you have other options. If you feel that Google cannot be trusted, move on to other sites that you trust. You have your choices.

  • Michael MacNaughton

    no–I do feel empathy for those who believe the future lies in the “cloud” – where all you’ll get is wet and the inablilty to see clearly.

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