SEP | 2016
In November of 2015, Google announced the Safe Browsing feature to help protect users against social engineering attacks, namely deceptive methods that are used to trick visitors into doing something dangerous, such as installing unwanted software or giving away personal information.
Many internet users have come across websites which use social engineering to attempt to persuade users to do something. The message is often in a deceptive download button or image ads that claims that the user’s system is out of date.
These claims are false but they are designed to block certain site content so that the user really believes that they need to do what the ad or download button says in order to gain access to the site content. In some cases, the ads block out the content of the entire website on mobile devices in an attempt to get users to comply immediately.
However, when the user complies with the deceptive ad or download button, often there is no content to be downloaded or the user downloads something that is harmful to the user’s computer system.
What Are Deceptive Download Buttons?
To improve upon the protections that Google offers for users of its search engine, Google will penalize sites that have image ads or download buttons that: Try to trick you into doing something that you would only do at the direction of a trusted entity, such as share your social media profile information, call a tech support hotline or share a password. Try to imitate the look and feel of a trusted entity, like your own browser, device, or the site that the deceptive content appears on. If your site contains content that Google would consider as social engineering content by meeting the above criteria, Google Safe Browsing will now display a warning to users when they visit the website. With the new warning, Google will warn you to stay away from the website before you click to the website with the harmful downloads. These warnings appear not only in the organic search results but also on AdWords listings and in the Chrome Browser.
How Can I Know If My Site Displays Warnings to Users?
If you want to find out if your site displays warning to users, you should make sure that you troubleshoot by using the social engineering help for webmasters that Google has provided via the Search Console. In addition, you should also check with the advertisers that you use to monetize content on your website or display ads to ensure that the ads displayed do not use any social engineering tactics that could harm the user experience of your website.
How Do I Get Rid of Malicious Ads on My Website?
If your site has been found to have such malicious content, getting rid of the content may be as simple as removing advertising scripts that you have installed on your website. However, you may actually be affected by this problem because your site has been hacked. If the dangerous downloads on your website are the result of a hack, then you will need to take a step by step approach to undo the damage with the assistance of an experience web developer. Installing tools to monitor the traffic on your website, such as Google Analytics, is probably one of the best ways to make sure that problems with your website are detected early on and are resolved before they begin to affect the reputation of your website.