Google to warn millions of webmasters

Google to warn millions of webmasters

Summary: Google's web spam team's recent warning to 20,000 webmasters about vulnerabilities on their sites is a drop in the ocean, with the search giant revealing that it is stepping up its plans against malicious sites.

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Google's web spam team's recent warning to 20,000 webmasters about vulnerabilities on their sites is a drop in the ocean, with the search giant revealing that it is stepping up its plans against malicious sites.

Earlier this week, head of Google's web spam team Matt Cutts, who is also the author of Google's SafeSearch family filter, tweeted that Google had sent out 20,000 emails to webmasters who have had their sites compromised. The search giant isn't required to notify webmasters that their sites are vulnerable; however, as it trawls the web to index sites, it is able to discover which sites have malicious content, and it chooses to notify the sites affected.

The email advises webmasters to check their source code for unfamiliar JavaScript and files that contain known malicious code.

However, the latest 20,000 warning figure is just a drop in the ocean. The company first stepped up sending notifications to webmasters in March 2010, and that year sent 100,000 emails, as revealed by Google software engineer Tiffany Oberoi at the Search Marketing Expo in San Jose, California, last month, and reported by Search Engine Land.

The next year, it sent out just under 600,000 emails, but the company told ZDNet Australia that it has renewed its stance to support webmasters, and has increased the scope that triggers when a webmaster is notified of an issue.

"We have gradually been opening up the types of issues that we send notifications for over the past few months, because we want to communicate more openly about potential issues, leading to a large increase in the number of messages," the company said.

As a result, the search giant sent over 700,000 emails to webmasters in the first two months of 2012 alone — achieving about the same result in two months that it had in the previous two years.

At Google's current rate of notifications, the search engine looks set to alert about 4.2 million webmasters this year, although this assumes that it does not open the scope of notifications further, and that the rate of compromised sites remains steady.

Topics: Collaboration, Google, Malware, Security

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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