Why was Google.com 'partially dangerous' yesterday, safe today?
Google.com's own Safe Browsing tools classified the site as 'partially dangerous,' which was reversed Tuesday night. It's unlikely Google.com poses a significant danger to the average user.
Internet searchers browsing through "Google.com" do so at their own peril, according to warnings from Google.
The feature page of the tech giant's search engine was briefly flagged as "partially dangerous" Tuesday morning. The classification came from Google’s own Safe Browsing tools, which crawl through the Web in search of questionable sites.
The warning didn't last long. The status was reversed late Tuesday night, a Google spokesperson told Fortune. Currently, Google's Transparency Report shows "google.com" to be "not dangerous," but a few caveats remain.
So should searching Google.com be accompanied by a flush of adrenaline? No. At least, not any more than it normally would.
Google's remaining Safe Browsing warning are as follows:
Some pages on this website install malware on visitors' computers.
Some pages on this website redirect visitors to dangerous websites that install malware on visitors' computers, including: 7b726aeb-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com, polnu4ewtan4iwki.ws, and 40d0dfd9-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com.
Dangerous websites have been sending visitors to this website, including: maeaflordapele.com, valeimaginar.blogspot.com, and bou7out.blogspot.com.
The warnings are likely less of a reflection of Google.com being an unsafe website and more the result of users using Google to link to potentially malicious or unsecured websites. The warnings might indicate users should use caution when clicking through links to other websites, but the Google.com page itself is safe.
Similar warnings can be seen on other websites that rely heavily on user-content. "Facebook.com" has nearly identical site safety details, but maintains a "not dangerous" status. "Reddit.com," "bing.com," and "yahoo.com" all have some of the same types of warnings.
The switch for Google.com from "partially dangerous" to "not dangerous" was not carried over to all user-content-heavy sites.
"Several other major sites that thrive on user-generated content are also listed as 'partially dangerous' by Safe Browsing at the moment, including 'tumblr.com' and popular code sharing site 'github.com,'" The Washington Post's Andrea Peterson points out.
The Safe Browsing feature was built and implemented by Google to increase awareness of web security, according to Google.
The feature "examines billions of URLs per day looking for unsafe websites," Google states on each Transparency Report page. And when it finds one, it notifies users and the webmaster that the website could potentially be malicious.
But having a website marked "dangerous" is not a game over for traffic. Google offers instructions as to how webmasters can clean up unsecured content and then submit the website for a review.
"Don't panic," it states on the Transparency report page. "Users sometimes post bad content on websites that are normally safe. Safe Browsing will update the safety status once the webmaster has cleaned up the bad content."
Of course, this isn't the first time the Google homepage has been tagged by Safe Browsing tools and others as potentially unsafe: