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Google Warns Users About "Unsafe Sites"

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the good-citizenry dept.

163

Dynamoo writes "The BBC is reporting that Google will start to warn users about unsafe websites, in particular those that host spyware or have privacy implications. The technology to do this has been developed in partnership with StopBadware, and appears to be an alternative to the popular McAfee SiteAdvisor application. Perhaps this will help curtail slimeware ridden sites from peddling their wares. But it will be interesting to see how Google rates some of its own products, including the potentially risky Google Desktop."

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Here's the Link (5, Funny)

ThisIsForReal (897233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15859943)

If you don't want to RTFA, you can follow the link to Google's policy here:

www.goatse.ru

Re:Here's the Link (-1, Troll)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15859995)

Sometimes seemingly good members make such a huge mistake that they should have their account deleted. This is one example.

Re:Here's the Link (4, Insightful)

Suspended_Reality (927563) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860276)

The grandparent wasn't trolling. It was satire. Note the non-link to a non-existent, yet parodied sub-pop culture reference for an article about harmful websites. I for one thought it was funny.

any grass here? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15859951)

Is this supposed to be a slashvertisement of those two products mentioned? Smells astroturfy to me.
 

Re:any grass here? (-1, Offtopic)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860207)

Yeah, I dunno about that one. Have you ever smelled astroturf up close? It smells more like an athlete using a oak leaf for a washcloth. Slashdot smells more like a roomful of Europeans using the biday if you ask me.

This will invite more unjust lawsuits (5, Insightful)

etymxris (121288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15859955)

If you thought Google had a lot of lawsuits when altering pageranks of linkfarms, wait until limewire et al start suing Google for "defamation".

Re:This will invite more unjust lawsuits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860016)

And what about sites that sell malware as tangible goods, like anybody stocking Sony [sony.com] CDs?

Or companies that merely manufacture malware, for example first4internet [first4internet.co.uk] , but don't actually host it on their site?

Re:This will invite more unjust lawsuits (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860364)

And what about sites that sell malware as tangible goods, like anybody stocking Sony CDs?

I'm not terribly worried about these sites, for myself, as I'm pretty up on things. The real target would be the unsophisticated computer users (i.e. those who have several bots running on their computer and don't know it.)

What would be very useful is a Safe Mode button on browsers which turn off/on image viewing, flash, java, all plug-ins, etc. You'd need to reload, but if you are looking for text, the rest of that is so much dross anyway.

now lawsuits, just wait until they warn about FUD emitting sites. ha!

Re:This will invite more unjust lawsuits (2, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860158)

It would be a brief lawsuit.
The most important defense to an action for defamation is "truth", which is an absolute defense to an action for defamation. - Defamation: Libel and Slander Law [expertlaw.com] at ExpertLaw
To win this lawsuit, the malware providers are going to have to prove that they don't do exactly what Google says they do, which is going to be challenging.

Some borderline cases might slip through; I seem to recall Gatorsoft (maybe as Claria?) getting an exemption from some anti-spyware software/lists by claiming that the user installed their products for the features (like automated form-filling) and were 'clearly' notified about the other aspects of the software, but even catching the totally sleazy operators would be a major win. (And odds are Google would still find some verbiage to apply to even this edge case even if they were sued.)

Re:This will invite more unjust lawsuits (2, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860218)

> To win this lawsuit, the malware providers are going to have to prove that they don't
> do exactly what Google says they do, which is going to be challenging.

The successful suits will come from sites (not malware "providers")that don't host any malware but were falsely accused of doing so.

Re:This will invite more unjust lawsuits (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860248)

In that case, I doubt a lawsuit will be necessary; Google will just fix the listing and probably try to figure out why they were listed in the first place.

Re:This will invite more unjust lawsuits (1)

Isotopian (942850) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860373)

Indeed.
And I don't imagine suing Google is the most effective way to restore your pagerank...

Re:This will invite more unjust lawsuits (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860481)

Maybe there's a 'tried to sue us' column in their database (or tag in some sort of semantic cluster) that does your pagerank no good at all ^^

Re:This will invite more unjust lawsuits (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860436)

There will be cases where Google will be slow to react or will initially dispute the sites claim of innocence. In the meanwhile the site will suffer losses which Google will not voluntarily reimburse them.

I'm not saying it isn't a good idea or that Google shouldn't do it, just that there will be problems.

Re:This will invite more unjust lawsuits (2, Interesting)

Azarael (896715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860182)

That's a good point, there are probably some things that Google can do to limit their liability though. Capturing a snapshot of the malware in question is probably a good start. The only problem then is bickering over the definition of what types of content actually are malware and the issue content from 3rd(4th?) party advertisers could also make things sticky.

Just Grow Up and Respect Women (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860264)

"StopBadWare" and "SiteAdvisor" should be renamed to "StopBadPornWare" and "PornSiteAdvisor", respectively, to accurately reflect the primary use of these anti-spyware tools.

I have never encountered any spyware problem when I visit my usual sites: "New York Times", CNN, Fox News ("We report; you decide!"), and the like. In fact, I have never ever heard of out-of-control spyware problems on any non-porn site. Since I never visit porn sites, I have never encountered any spyware problem since day #1.

Hence, the spyware problem must be associated with the porn sites, which only immature, ignorant people visit. If you guys would stop visiting the porn sites, then you would not need the help of "StopBadPornWare" or "PornSiteAdvisor".

Spyware is similar to venereal disease. If you play with fire, then you will be burned.

Here is some more advice: just grow up and respect women.

Re:Just Grow Up and Respect Women (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860439)

It's hard to masturbate to personality.

Re:Just Grow Up and Respect Women (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860636)

Well there are other spots too. For example if you want Game Hints, (Many of those have Spyware), checking out some "Funny" stuff that a friend forwards you. or some other sites where the site owners don't ask to many questions about the add and revenu they get from it. Sure CNN and FOX News wont be filled with the crap. But the smaller web sites do. Also when you are searching for information on google sometimes they just bring you to the wrong spot because they found out how to get themselves ranked higher in google so you click on the link and bang you infected.

Why not just stick them at the end of the search (3, Insightful)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15859957)

A "screensaver" site isn't going to get much traffic on page 1000.

Re:Why not just stick them at the end of the searc (4, Insightful)

bkgood (986474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860114)

Because google [claims it] doesn't alter search results. Flagging them doesn't technically alter them (it just displays a bit more information), but moving them to the bottom of the pile, so to speak, is.

But what if your site was somehow rated as "spyware-filled", when, in fact, it wasn't? Would you rather be flagged as dangerous, or would you rather be sent to the bottom? At least the flag can be ignored.

Re:Why not just stick them at the end of the searc (1)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860237)

But what if your site was somehow rated as "spyware-filled", when, in fact, it wasn't? Would you rather be flagged as dangerous, or would you rather be sent to the bottom? At least the flag can be ignored.

If Google reported my site as "spyware-filled" and it wasn't, I'd want Google to fix it. As long as they have a straightforward and reasonably quick process for dealing with false positives, I'd be glad if they moved spyware-filled sites to the bottom of the list, if not off the list altogether (perhaps by a check box, as mentioned in another post).

Re:Why not just stick them at the end of the searc (1)

bkgood (986474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860388)

If Google reported my site as "spyware-filled" and it wasn't, I'd want Google to fix it. As long as they have a straightforward and reasonably quick process for dealing with false positives, I'd be glad if they moved spyware-filled sites to the bottom of the list, if not off the list altogether (perhaps by a check box, as mentioned in another post).
But how would you know it was marked if it's on the bottom? Do you periodically check the 1000th page of a google search you believe your site should show up under to see if it's marked "spyware!"?

Sounds like a hit-and-miss to me.

And regarding a "please check me, I promise I'm not spyware" button, that's not something Google would do. If they discover a Google-bomb, they remove it from the database. And once something's done, Google has a history of not undoing it.

Re:Why not just stick them at the end of the searc (1)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860563)

But how would you know it was marked if it's on the bottom? Do you periodically check the 1000th page of a google search you believe your site should show up under to see if it's marked "spyware!"?

Let's assume I have a commercial site. It normally comes up within the first two Google pages for a certain search. Suddenly, it doesn't come up even in the first three or four. Since it's my page, I could presumably craft a specific search to narrow things down. If I clicked on it and Google warned against spyware present on it, I would have a good idea what happened to its placement if such a rank-dropping method were in place.

Re:Why not just stick them at the end of the searc (1)

Tri0de (182282) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860355)

IMHO Google could very well offer a choice in that matter; vis a vis seeing the site as flagged or relegated to the bottom. Just a check box in one's preferences. Google is under no obligation to anyone other than their stockholders to do squat; they are not a public utility nor a monopoly so they can bloody well use any method to rate sites they want and Devil take the hindmost; no one is obligated to use them.

Re:Why not just stick them at the end of the searc (2, Interesting)

bkgood (986474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860405)

they are not a public utility nor a monopoly so they can bloody well use any method to rate sites they want and Devil take the hindmost; no one is obligated to use them.

But they have a reputation to keep if they're going to keep vistors and ad-impressions. Showing integrity is one way to do that.

Re:Why not just stick them at the end of the searc (1)

tickbox (945624) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860136)

I don't think they want to modify the page ranks just because a sight contains something harmful. It's my belief that they just want to make it a little better for the average internet newbie.

flag javascript, flash, schlockwave (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15859961)

You mean they will start flagging any site that uses javascript, flash, schlockwave etc, or is this too much to hope for?

Re:flag javascript, flash, schlockwave (1)

Gospodin (547743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860185)

If Google flags sites for using Javascript, then they'd better make sure http://google.com/ [google.com] is flagged!

Re:flag javascript, flash, schlockwave (1)

bcarl314 (804900) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860525)

Maybe so, but who goes to google to search for google?

Re:flag javascript, flash, schlockwave (4, Insightful)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860203)

What is it with the anti-javascript/flash attitude here? Properly managed use of Javascript is fine. Yes, it has more holes than swiss cheese, but it is so easy to disable and manage with firefox and the like; why claim that ANY site using Javascript is a "potential security risk"? The same goes for PHP, Flash, and every other web technology that has potential security holes; surely, nine outta ten times, the benefits outweigh the risks. Yes, AJAX is overhyped, but Javascript is in its name for a good reason.

They'll flag sites that deploy malware, spyware, and other junk. They'll flag sites that use unrestricted javascript and dangeous security workarounds. Not everything. Blanket labelling would only cause annoyance.

Re:flag javascript, flash, schlockwave (1)

Draconum (973971) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860250)

Mod parent up plzkthx! Agreed and... agreed! Why /don't/ we just remove all dynamic functionality from the web? *tounge firmly in cheek*

Google Desktop (5, Insightful)

corychristison (951993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15859967)

But it will be interesting to see how Google rates some of its own products, including the potentially risky Google Desktop.
I still don't really see how potential problems are real problems unless they have already been exploited and proven.

In my opinion it's like saying I am a risk because I have arms. Potentially I could strangle someone with them. :-P

Re:Google Desktop (4, Funny)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860002)

In my opinion it's like saying I am a risk because I have arms. Potentially I could strangle someone with them. :-P


Yeah, as a Brit I always wondered why the US constitution had to explicitly give the right to wear T-shirts; over here we take that as a given. ;-)

Re:Google Desktop (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860019)

Especially considering the T-shirt was invented during World War II.


I agree with GP. If something is a real risk to computer security, it is generally hacked within the first six months of popularity. I think that the mention of GDS in the writeup was a needless shot.

Strangle Someone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860214)

The average ./er couldnt even stand up, and you claim you can strangle someone with your arms?

Re:Google Desktop (5, Funny)

Gryle (933382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860235)

The Department of Homeland Security has noted your concerns. Steps will be taken to ensure proper and supervised use of arms to prevents arms from being used by potential terrorists.

Sincerely,
The Goverment.

Re:Google Desktop (1)

bblboy54 (926265) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860246)

In my opinion it's like saying I am a risk because I have arms. Potentially I could strangle someone with them

You dont take those on airlines do you?!

Re:Google Desktop (0, Flamebait)

eipgam (945201) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860368)

I read it more as an attempted troll.

Re:Google Desktop (1)

tfurrows (541222) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860517)

Sir, I balk at your two-armed threat. The *nix fortune app identifies a far more surly threat:
(1) Alexander the Great was a great general.
(2) Great generals are forewarned.
(3) Forewarned is forearmed.
(4) Four is an even number.
(5) Four is certainly an odd number of arms for a man to have.
(6) The only number that is both even and odd is infinity.

Therefore, Alexander the Great had an infinite number of arms.

- Fortune
I defy anyone to find a more menacing search term than Alexander the Great!

Re:Google Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860629)

In my opinion it's like saying I am a risk because I have arms. Potentially I could strangle someone with them. :-P

I've seen those arms. Nothing to worry about there. :^P

And yes I am enjoying the irony of posting that as "Anonymous Coward".

Many web sites are "unsafe" because (2, Insightful)

portmapper (991533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15859975)

their WWW browser and/or OS is unsafe in various ways. We know that IE and Windows is not the safest combination,
but looking at the recent string of security holes in Firefox/Thunderbird shows that this is not particulary
safe either.

Why not fix the software and/or its default configuration so that it is safe to use?

Re:Many web sites are "unsafe" because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860017)

Why not get a fundamental understanding of computer software. There is no such beast as a safe configuration. Software running on the most "secure" configurations can still be designed to do harm. Short of crippling the OS, you will never, ever, get a 100% safe configuration.

Re:Many web sites are "unsafe" because (1)

portmapper (991533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860104)

> Why not get a fundamental understanding of computer software. There is no such beast as a safe configuration. Software running on the most "secure" configurations can still be designed to do harm. Short of crippling the OS, you will never, ever, get a 100% safe configuration.

Ooooohhhh, "Short of crippling the OS, you will never, ever, get a 100% safe configuration."
Are you a Microsoft Windows user, by any chance, because that sure sounds like Microsoft excuses for
their security holes ridden software.

Of course there are configurations/software that can be consider safe for most usages, but hey,
so many users demand bloatware.....

Re:Many web sites are "unsafe" because (1)

thePig (964303) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860209)

Bloatware is what makes the user happy.
And in business, the customer is all what matters.

Also, it is *not* possible to fix all the bugs.
Bugs are part and parcel of any software system, and the bigger the system is, the more bugs there will be.

One can do a reasonable amount of work in decreasing the bugs, but after a limit, the cost of quality goes up too high.
So, I also would have to agree with GP in this matter.

Also, a problem can be attacked from different angles.
This is just another security solution, which comes from another angle i.e. all.

Re:Many web sites are "unsafe" because (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860039)

Why not fix the software and/or its default configuration so that it is safe to use?

That doesn't address sites that deliberately link people to executables that they delibrately download and run because they think they're about to see a 3D holographic movie of unicorns actually producing rainbows in the shape of guardian angel puppies protecting endangered species that are making jokes about the president.

The point is that if Google finds sites polluted by such malware - not just some plugin-abusing bit of blinking nonsense - then they're going to give you the heads up on the link. I think it's great - but it will just make the bad guys get involved in another hide-the-malware arms race.

Re:Many web sites are "unsafe" because (1)

Azarael (896715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860205)

It's simply a case of attacking a problem from multiple directions. Of course what you suggest is necessary, but Google(or anyone else) can't just reach into someone's computer to fix things up.

Re:Many web sites are "unsafe" because (2, Insightful)

GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860270)

I'm really getting sick of smartass comments like this.

Why not require users to pass a course on safe computing before they have a license to use the internet?
Why not format the hard drive of every user who picks up a virus from a website, to teach them a lesson?
etc...

How about: Why not stop spouting rhetoric and attempt to deal with the malware/trojan situation (which will NEVER fully be solved by OS/browser security) in a realistic manner without the high-and-mighty attitude?

Pandora's Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15859976)

Malware and Phishers I do not mind. Innocent searches returning links to porn I do. If google wishes to police the internet, start with the porn barons first.

Re:Pandora's Box (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860067)

So you want searches for, say, "Big Tits" or "Wet Pussy," to go to birds and cats? Perhaps the family filter could be improved, but I don't think that should reflect on what the non-prude searcher sees. Unless the page title is deceptive... but that will be pageranked down anyways. No one except other low rank affiliate sites would link to it in similar deceptive terms. But hey, better results for relevant stuff is always nice, wouldn't complain about that.

Re:Pandora's Box (3, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860179)

The original post never implied that searches for porn should turn up anything else but porn. It just said that if you search for kitty cat that you shouldn't get a bunch of beastiality websites. Now if you searched for "kitty cat porn" then fine.

Re:Pandora's Box (1)

jpardey (569633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860453)

I wasn't saying that he was. I was just saying that there are ambiguous terms. If you don't want such images, then there should be a filter, or it should be obvious in the link text that it is a dirty site. And just how dirty of a dirty site would you want removed? What if you are searching for information on pornograpy, and don't want to see smut? Your proposal would seperate searchers into perverted and non-perverted, rather than prudeish and non-prudeish. A seperate filter would enable the most control over what you see and what you don't see.

I'll tell you what a pandoras box really is (2, Insightful)

deft (253558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860252)

People like you starting to censor things on the web for the rest of thw word..... how about a little self censorship for you and your family.

i'll keep your box closed for now.

Help! Help! I'm being oppressed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860654)

You're infringing on my right not to be offended by things I don't like. Fascist.

Re:Pandora's Box (1)

celardore (844933) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860516)

If you were searching for "Pandoras Box" you probably were getting porn....

Google Dekstop isn't unsafe (5, Insightful)

man_ls (248470) | more than 8 years ago | (#15859988)

Google Desktop isn't unsafe in any way. Google fully discloses the fact that they'll be rooting around in your hard drive and mixing data from there, with data from their servers, for the purposes of providing a local Google search to you on your own machine.

There's nothing wrong with people who are willing to voluntarily give up some measure of their own privacy in exchange for a service provided on that data -- I use Gmail for all of my e-mail, even to the point of forwarding multiple accounts into my gmail inbox, and don't think twice about the fact that somewhere, Google is reading and storing it.

The problem arises when people aren't informed their privacy is being tampered with...malicious web toolbars and cursor packages, Gator, etc. No anti-spyware application I've seen to date has detected Google Desktop (granted, I've only seen 3 machines that actually used GD) but that says something to me.

Re:Google Dekstop isn't unsafe (2, Insightful)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860025)

Nothing wrong with people installing Claria or spyware either, as long as they understand they're giving up their privacy. The difference is just in how much their privacy is worth to them. Some people's privacy is worth the ability to quickly search all their documents, other people's is worth a couple pretty screensavers. In that sense, it's good that Google will at least make people aware of any possible privacy/security issues.

Re:Google Dekstop isn't unsafe (5, Insightful)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860195)

Google Desktop is a product in and of itself. No one WANTS claria. No one seeks out claria to install. People actively go get Google Desktop because they want Google Desktop for the features it provides. Find me one person that said "damn computer, I need that claria product to make it useful"

It piggy backs on other thigs that are useful..that is a significant difference

Re:Google Dekstop isn't unsafe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860211)

You mean like how Google Desktop doesn't get installed by programs like say, Adobe Reader?

I can find you a of people (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860240)

Find me one person that said "damn computer, I need that claria product to make it useful"

If so motivated I could find you at least 100 people that I know that would agree with that statement. They are not the smartest people not the kind that know what slashdot is, but they exist. They download whatever looks like it might make using the computer more fun, then they get confused when strange things start happening to their comptuer and they call me to fix it. I do, remove all fothe crap explain to them why they had the problem and get called with the same problem in another month becasue they replaced the programs I removed.

Re:I can find you a of people (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860320)

They downloaded a screensave that had claria in it. They did not choose claria.
There is a fundamental difference between being sought out and piggy backing upon other "useful" software (someone wanted that screensaver etc)

Re:Google Dekstop isn't unsafe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860191)

"Gmail for all of my e-mail, even to the point of forwarding multiple accounts into my gmail inbox, and don't think twice about the fact that somewhere, Google is reading and storing it."

I'll be sending you some email under the same "Osama Bin-Laden" thanking you for the photographs you sent me of "interesting sites".

Re:Google Dekstop isn't unsafe (1)

Admiral Justin (628358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860247)

Maybe you haven't been told that Google Desktop hooks into your TCP/IP stack?

After installing Google Desktop, every net transaction has a bit of google in it.

A nice site 'bout it [commerce.net]

Re:Google Dekstop isn't unsafe (1)

deblau (68023) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860273)

Disclaimer: I am not expressing an opinion on Google Desktop. I have never used it, nor have I seen anyone else use it.

Google Desktop isn't unsafe in any way. Google fully discloses the fact that they'll be rooting around in your hard drive and mixing data from there, with data from their servers, for the purposes of providing a local Google search to you on your own machine.
I am now fully disclosing that I'm going to shoot you with a handgun. Don't worry, you'll be perfectly safe.

*BANG*

No anti-spyware application I've seen to date has detected Google Desktop (granted, I've only seen 3 machines that actually used GD) but that says something to me.

What, the guys at Google are clever? But we already knew that.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. (Props to Carl Sagan)

Re:Google Dekstop isn't unsafe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860484)

"Disclaimer: I am not expressing an opinion on Google Desktop. I have never used it, nor have I seen anyone else use it."

You don't need the disclaimer, we can watch your ignorance drip from every sentence.

Re:Google Dekstop isn't unsafe (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860380)

There's nothing wrong with people who are willing to voluntarily give up some measure of their own privacy in exchange for a service provided on that data
I'm only going to partially agree with you on that one.

When deciding to give up their privacy, people are going to weigh the benefit gained against the harm done (in theory). The question is, when your choices are limited and all of them require you to give up your privacy, what are you going to do?

Privacy (IMO) needs to be actively protected. We've gotten complacent about it, and the lack of privacy from business and government that we experience today is mind-boggling. 100 years ago, it would have caused armed rebellions.

So, while in theory people will make an educated choice about trading privacy for services, in practice we're ending up with less of a choice and with greater intrusions of privacy.

Poop (3, Insightful)

Known Nutter (988758) | more than 8 years ago | (#15859994)

Google Desktop and crap-ware ridden screensavers have nothing to do with one another. Summary is a google-bashing troll, at best.

About Time (5, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15859998)

It's about time. I've been saying this to them, and about them, for a very long time. I can't think of a better value-added service that any search engine can provide in these days of dodgy web-sites. Would be nice if, like their Adult Content filter for images, you could simply set your Google to not even ask you if you wanted to continue, but block out these sites entirely (remember other people use your computer too).

Or even better still, read the Google cache of the site with all the bad stuff removed. That would be trick!

I'm sure my letter of commendation, along with Google stock options grant, is arriving any moment now.

Re:About Time (3, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860057)

I agree that I love the service but I don't think they should block any sites entirely. If people want to ignore the warnings then they should be able to. The reason why is that it only takes one false-positive to make Google look dumb and get a bunch of bad PR for "censorship".

Re:About Time (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860407)

He didn't say anything about forcing it. He said make it an option, and it's an excellent idea.

So long, and thanks for the FUD. (2)

Civil_Disobedient (261825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860001)

But it will be interesting to see how Google rates some of its own products, including the potentially risky Google Desktop."

From the article:

Google confirmed to ZDNet UK that data was temporarily transported outside of businesses when the Search Across Computers feature was used, and that this represented "as much of a security risk as e-mail does."

And also...

Gartner has recommended that businesses use Google Desktop for Enterprise, as this allows systems administrators to centrally turn off the Search Across Computers feature, which it said should be "immediately disabled."

In other words, mostly harmless.

What would you expect them to say? (0)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860020)

But it will be interesting to see how Google rates some of its own products, including the potentially risky Google Desktop.

If by "interesting" you mean "boring", then I'd have to agree. Here's a prediction: they won't label their own stuff as spyware.

Re:What would you expect them to say? (1)

_Swank (118097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860093)

and that's entirely due to the fact that it is not

Re:What would you expect them to say? (1)

JPFitting (990912) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860168)

Naturally they wouldn't; I don't think one should consider programs that tell you what they are going to do as spyware; the whole definition of "SPY" is lost.

Conflict of interest? (3, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860027)

Like Financial Services companies that used to advise their clients to buy their company's own investments, I can easily see how Google getting involved in this could be a quagmire. As the summary example pointed out, what happens when Google's own software is dangerous? Do they have to face down their own rating service to get it out there? Chances are... they won't. They will assume that all Google software is "Good" software.

Fair enough, since I guess you can assume that Google wouldn't be actually creating malware on purpose. If you just single out those sites with the 1000 porn banners that try and install virii and spyware on your computer, Google won't have a problem. However, I think, the real problem for most users is not sites like that which are obviously dodgy, its the sites that look clean and professional that seem to have a legitimate purpose for their software, and often those proprietors are quick to try and play up their legitimacy. When Google marks them as "bad", you can expect lawsuits.

While I find that this may be a big plus for a search engine that can be percieved as impartial to software makers, as Google becomes a notable software maker itself, it may be an issue. It certainly could leave them vulnerable to the charge of conflict of interest as time goes on.

Re:Conflict of interest? (4, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860159)

If you don't trust Google, then you won't trust their software or malware detection. If you do trust Google, then you will trust both. I don't get the problem.

Warning (0, Troll)

tgpo (976851) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860081)

They've been warning me about www.msn.com for years.

While they're at it ... (3, Insightful)

cybermage (112274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860084)

Why not give users feedback about their browser or the browser compatibility of sites? I think it would be nice if Google would tell IE users with Active X on that a site they're about to visit contains Active X and may be a threat to their system.

Better yet, consider standards compliance and accessibility when ranking pages.

If Google wants to use their position to police the Internet, why stop with Spyware. Test whether people have a secure browser and tell them when they don't:

"FYI, your version of IE is 3 years out of date. Please go here [microsoft.com] to upgrade it, or go here [mozilla.com] to replace it."

They could fix a lot of the problem right there.

Re:While they're at it ... (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860281)

interesting concept...

Google is in a dominent position they could force compliance with standards . People are chasing google. If they started ranking lower based on standards incompliance, people would quickly make their sites work right.

Re:While they're at it ... (4, Interesting)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860378)

Which [w3.org] * standards [w3.org] does [w3.org] Google [w3.org] support [w3.org] ?

I mean, MSN Search [w3.org] does a better job of meeting the W3C's "standards" than Google does.

* When I clicked that link I got a validation check for google.co.jp, but google.com has the same "Optimized so it downloads better on my 2400 baud modem" approach to its source.

An Example (2, Interesting)

jimmichie (993747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860098)

The first result in a search for "Serial Box" Serial Box [google.com] gives an example of the new behaviour. A page headed "Malware Warning" appears and warns you the page you are about to visit may harm your computer.

Re:An Example (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860132)

The first result in a search for "Serial Box" Serial Box gives an example of the new behaviour. A page headed "Malware Warning" appears and warns you the page you are about to visit may harm your computer.
I do not see this mythological warning you speak of. - perhaps I need to upgrade to Google 1.0

Re:An Example (1)

jimmichie (993747) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860210)

Odd. Here's a direct link to the Google page I get when I click the first result.
http://www.google.com/interstitial?url=http://www. theserials.com/rated.htm [google.com]

Re:An Example (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860643)

Odd. Here's a direct link to the Google page I get when I click the first result.
thanks... I failed to click on the result of the search.. thats where I thought parent was referring..

Re:An Example (3, Informative)

flink (18449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860299)

You have to actually click on the link. Here's an example: http://www.google.com/interstitial?url=http://www. theserials.com/serial/serialbox.html [google.com]

Re:An Example (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860623)

You have to actually click on the link.
ah, thanks!!

Dangerous Words (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860139)

DANGEROUS KEYWORDS
Free screensavers
Bearshare
Screensavers
Winmx
Limewire
Lime wire
Free ringtones

Where is 'advertisment?'

Re:Dangerous Words (2, Insightful)

AndreiK (908718) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860183)

Google wouldn't profit by blocking 99% of the internet, including itself.

"Unsafe Sites" (3, Funny)

kopo (890010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860143)

... like AOL [arstechnica.com] .

Re:"Unsafe Sites" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860234)

Or MySpace

You Fail It? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15860161)

the dev3loper Developers

Google Desktop is NOT SPYWARE (1)

bblboy54 (926265) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860222)

Granted, there are privacy concerns to some users but there is a huge difference between Google Desktop and Spyware Applications.
From wikipedia: [wikipedia.org] .....spyware refers to a broad category of malicious software designed to intercept or take partial control of a computer's operation without the informed consent of that machine's owner or legitimate user.....
Everything that Google does with Google Desktop is fully disclosed. Additionally, the concerns of Google Desktop are legitimate features that offer an experience to the user that is desired. Spyware concerns offer nothing of any benefit to the person using the infected computer.

Questions that need answers (4, Interesting)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860225)

How do you handle sites where the bad pages are hidden behind a robots file? The front page may be crawlable, but the page with the malware isn't.

How do they handle redirects? If I have a site that redirects a user to bad content, is the original page flagged as bad? Combined with a page that isn't crawled, how would they know to flag it?

How are they going to handle any obfuscation that takes place? Or handle new malware? This might not be a show-stopper, but I think it is a techinical issue that should be addressed.

How are they going to handle the lag between crawling and new content? My server gets crawled about once a week. So I would have ~6 days to host bad content before switching it back to look legit for my next Google crawl.

What system are they going to have to handle complaints or appeals? If my site is flagged incorrectly, Google is taking a risk of liability by flagging it that way. It seems that if they take due diligence to keep the false positives low, there will be an increase in false negatives.

These are just off the top of my head and I am sure there are a lot more issues that I haven't thought of.

What if I were to google for... (1)

kpainter (901021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860286)

WindowsUpdate? Would I see a warning screen?

Stay Safe (1)

kahrytan (913147) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860339)

The only true way to surf the web is to not log on at all.

But for those who just can't go cold turkey. Best way to stay safe is use hardware firewall and/or new wired router, software firewall, and VMWare's Browsing Appliance with ubuntu.

Re:Stay Safe (1)

version2 (569804) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860455)

Bah! I usually just cross my fingers when I click on links. It has a proven success rate of 50%.

siteadvisor (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860395)

I use the firefox plugin made by McAfee from http://siteadvisor.com/ [siteadvisor.com] it labels results in Google with a color coded system based on a few ratings. They test on website safety (pop ups, fraudulent practices, browser exploits), safety of downloads and spam on submit information. Google's new feature breaks that and is less informative. I think Google is doing something good but I'm not sure their execution is the best. I would hope it would be a search preference but I guess it's in googles best interest to keep spyads down and their ads up not to mention the faster we can surf the more Google ads we see. I also don't imagine it would be long before Ads show up on the warning pages. I wish there was more info on testing and rating for the system.

You know (1)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860404)

Eih. Let the spyware infect your machine. The pages I view causes most spyware to go blind in seconds anyways.
I'm waiting for a site to put a virus on their page that destroys a google server once their site gets on the cache! Haha!

Google (1)

certel (849946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860409)

This is a good idea. Being notified of bunk sites during searches will be great.

Feel Lucky, Punk? (1)

darb_is_fat (782560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15860419)

This will add some danger and excitement to the "I'm Feeling Lucky" option. Or will it revert you to the first site that is deemed safe if the first site returned in the search is considered to be malicious?
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