Why Google Is Warning That ‘Google.Com’ Is ‘Partially Dangerous’


Google is warning you to watch out for, well, Google.

As of Tuesday morning, the search giant’s own Safe Browsing tool labels “google.com” as “partially dangerous.” The tool, which automatically scans “billions of URLs per day looking for unsafe websites,” cites “google.com” for some potentially scary problems.

“Some pages on this website install malware on visitors’ computers,” the Safe Browsing Site Status page warned, adding that “[a]ttackers on this site might try to trick you to download software or steal your information.”

Google declined to comment on the site’s status by Tuesday afternoon, but those ominous warnings likely don’t mean that visiting “google.com” itself is dangerous. Instead, they suggest that some people have used Google services to host or link to something malicious, so the tool is flagging the whole domain as a little risky.

“Users sometimes post bad content on websites that are normally safe,” the page explained.

It’s not clear how long google.com has been flagged as “partially dangerous,” although some reddit users noticed it Tuesday — the same day the Site Status page says its information was last updated. A flurry of blog posts from last November suggest google.com was also flagged with the dubious distinction back then.

But google.com is far from alone. 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 vast majority of things posted on all those sites are probably fine, but the nature of Safe Browsing’s scans dings them for any bad apples it finds.

In fact, the problems the scans flag may already be fixed because Safe Browsing doesn’t monitor in real time: According to the service’s FAQ, webmasters can request their site be rescanned once problems have been dealt with, and the site’s status will typically update within 24 hours if everything looks clean.

(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Andrea Peterson