Google has just announced something pretty interesting, that it is using its own data to detect viruses and will as of today be using Google Search results pages to warn users if their computers are infected with a specific form of malware. Users infected with the virus, which is apparently rerouting traffic to Google and other sites through a proxy, will see the below warning.
From the Google blog post mysteriously titled “Using data to protect people from malware”:
“Recently, we found some unusual search traffic while performing routine maintenance on one of our data centers. After collaborating with security engineers at several companies that were sending this modified traffic, we determined that the computers exhibiting this behavior were infected with a particular strain of malicious software, or “malware.” As a result of this discovery, today some people will see a prominent notification at the top of their Google web search results.”
Google’s Matt Cutts offers more details about the virus on his Twitter account, apparently it only affects Windows computers and hijacks Google results. “That’s how we learned about it,” Cutts says about the “results hacking” thing, without offering many more details. Google is recommending you follow the advice in its Help Center if you do receive the notification.
This is the first time major search engine turns its results pages into what is ostensibly a malware alarm. Of course this is in the company’s best interests; if proxies are intercepting communications they could also potentially access Google accounts, thus creating more headaches for Google.