if you have been following Internet trends then you have surly read about Google marking the entire internet as Malware. Well, they fixed that a long time ago. But newer borwsers including both Firefox and Google Chrome are using the Google database of malware sites to pop up warning messages if you try to go to a site that contains or links to malware.  What that means to you is that if you provide or link to malware your visitors will get a very ugly and nasty message about hwo unsafe and dangerous your web site is. Most visitors will not know how to by pass this warning, and even fewer will be willing to.

 

First things first

 

Malware is not virus. It has nothing to do with viruses, other then both are bad. Malware is just bad software. Most of the time when talking about websites, it’s a cookie that is left behind with certain permissions, or an image that is loaded from a traffic monitoring server that uses that data for less then legal means.  Most of the Malware is installed by the site owner or developer without ever intending to do so.

 

What this means

 

For end consumer websites (where the visitor is doing the buying or reading), getting this message will stop most of the traffic to your site resulting in fewer sales, or less income from ads.  For SAAS websites it means that all your clients will have their traffic blocked, and they will be very angry with you, and will likely no longer be your customers. The same goes for link list providers and other directory services.

 

How to prevent

 

Prevention is obviously the best thing to do in this case. It is however very tricky and easy at the same time.

 

First make sure that you only link to quality sites with no malware on them. You can only be dinged if you link to malware sites, not if they link to you. Make sure before you include links to any site you check it thoroughly. For forums, blogs, and other consumer drive content sites, I recommend disabling automatically linking all URLS. This means the users can still type in URLs but that visitors have to copy and paste the URL into their browsers. This separation keeps you from getting dinged by a user pasting in a malware site link.

 

Second avoid including anything from a less-then-quality source that says things like “past this code on your page”. That is the number one way to get on the Malware list. A lot of these services come across are traffic watchers, Traffic boosters, or such.  Some come across as totally legitimate services like tickers, and contact forms.  The best advise I can give here is “just don’t”. Of course sometimes it’s needed for site functionality, and that’s ok, just make sure you know where it is coming from (i.e. Icontact forms are ok because Icontact is a known provider) and make sure that you keep a list of when you have made this exception so that they can be easily removed if need be.

 

Getting off the list

 

Ok, so something happened, a user posted a link, you included a counter you shouldn’t have, that last image you posted was actually hosted by someone who got dinged, or in most cases, a site you have been using for years just got added to the malware list for some reason.  Well, removing your self from the list is very simple. It involves making a google account, verifying you own the domain, removing the offending content, certifying that you did so, then waiting about 3 days.  It is a very simple thing to do, and if your already using Google analytics, your half way there.  I can help with this if need be, or most other developers can too. Removing the offending content is the hardest part, the rest is basically just paper work.  Again the best method is prevention.

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