Google Safe Browsing gives more details to compromised website owners

The Google Search Console will now show tailored recommendations for dealing with security issues detected by Safe Browsing

Google is now providing more information to website owners whose online properties are temporarily blocked as unsafe by its Safe Browsing technology as a way to help them fix the identified problems faster.

Google Safe Browsing is a technology used by Google's search engine, the Google Chrome browser, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Android to steer users away from websites that host malicious or deceptive content.

On the back-end, Google uses robots to scan the web and build a list of websites that host malware, harmful downloads, or deceptive ads and pages. Software developers can then plug into an API to integrate this list into their own applications.

The problem is that many websites hosting malware or bad ads don't do so intentionally but were hacked by attackers. The owners of those websites can ask Google to rescan their properties and have them removed from the Safe Browsing blacklist once the security problems have been corrected.

Unfortunately, the review process is not always straightforward, because some website owners might not completely understand the issues affecting their websites and often fail to completely clean the malicious content.

To help reduce the number of such cases, Google has now updated the information available in its Search Console service to provide clearer explanations about six types of security issues that could be detected on a website, the Google Safe Browsing Team said in a blog post Tuesday.

"These explanations give webmasters more context and detail about what Safe Browsing found," the team said, "We also offer tailored recommendations for each type of issue, including sample URLs that webmasters can check to identify the source of the issue, as well as specific remediation actions webmasters can take to resolve the issue."

Webmasters are encouraged to proactively register their websites in the Search Console even if those websites have never been affected by a security issue. This will save them time when something does happen because Google will send notifications through the service as soon as Safe Browsing detects a problem

Google estimates that more than a billion users are protected by its Safe Browsing technology, and more than 60 million of them encounter Safe Browsing warnings on a weekly basis. As of May, webmasters took around 60 days on average to clean their websites once they were notified of a compromise, according to Google's data. This is an improvement from a 90-day average response time in May 2015.

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Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
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