What is a Safe Browsing warning?
A Safe Browsing warning happens when your website displays a red screen with a message warning visitors that your site is unsafe. Usually, this is also accompanied by a button that says Back to safety.
Much like other browser errors, Safe Browsing warnings do not have one standard message. Below are some of the different ways they are displayed:
- Warning: Something’s Not Right Here!
- Danger: Malware Ahead!: The web page you're trying to visit might have malware.
- Deceptive site ahead: The site you're trying to visit is suspected of being a phishing site.
- The Website Ahead Contains Malware!: The site you're trying to visit might try to install malware on your computer.
- The site ahead contains harmful programs: The site you're trying to visit might try to trick you into installing programs that harm your browsing experience.
Google implements this browser warning in order to protect internet users from unsafe sites and protect their personal data from hackers and other malicious entities.
Common causes of a Safe Browsing warning
There are several possible reasons why your website gets flagged as unsafe by Google. Below are the three most common causes:
Google activates this message when their robots find some suspicious code or software in your site that might infect visitors or other websites.
You’ve been hacked
The reason for this is because your site got hacked and has been infected by a malware.
Low Quality Ad Networks
Another possible cause is displaying adverts from low quality advertising networks, which may be hyperlinked, or redirect users, to a site that is spreading malicious malware or Trojan viruses.
How to troubleshoot Safe Browsing warnings
When your site displays a Safe Browsing warning, you can request Google review your site and remove the warning. Before you do this, however, you should inspect your site, and make sure it really is clean, and safe for visitors.
Important note: Create a complete backup of your site before you scan for malware. This is to make sure that in case you make a misstep, you will always have a copy of your website to revert to.
Moreover, quarantine your site before you perform a clean-up. Take your site temporarily offline so that you will have minimal intrusion from hackers, and you will be able to prevent your website from infecting or compromising more visitors.
SECURE YOUR SITE:
- Change passwords to your hosting and FTP accounts. This way you will be able to cut the hacker's access (in case you were hacked) and any cleaning up you do will not be in vain.
- Scan your files and folders. Get a reliable malware scanner or antivirus, and run it. Do this for your site files as well as your local drives. Make sure to clean everything and remove all malicious malware or infected files.
- Check your site database for suspicious files and folders. Take particular note of those inside your site directory that you don’t recognise or don’t seem to belong to your CMS or site.
- Check your .htaccess file. Open it and check if there are any suspicious blank lines at the top of the file. Some hackers get away with accessing and/or infecting your site by making it look empty.
- Get a website vulnerability scanner, such as Crazy Domains Site Protection. Scan your website and the software will give you a list of any security problems it finds in your site.
Important Note: Make sure that your site is really clean and all problems and breaches have been resolved before you proceed to requesting a review from Google.
REQUEST A REVIEW:
Once you have secured your site and cleaned it up, as much as you can, you may then go to Google Webmaster Tools and submit Request a review. Below are the steps you need to follow:
- Before anything else, verify your site. Make sure you claim ownership of your site in Google Webmaster Tools.
- Go to Google Webmaster Tools, and sign in.
- Next, click the button on the right that says Add a property.
- In the pop-out notification, select Website and add your website’s URL. Then, click Add.
- On the next page, follow the instructions. Make sure to upload the HTML verification file inside your site’s folder. Comply with the “I’m not a robot” reCAPTCHA security step, and then click Verify.
- Click Continue.
- Once you’ve verified your website, you will then be redirected to the Search Console Dashboard. Click the Security Issues on the left side panel. Here you will find a list of security issues Google has found in your site to warrant the Safety Browsing warning.
If there are still security issues listed in the page, check out the resources supplied by Google on resolving the issues, if there are any.
If you believe that the sample URLs listed in the Security Issues page have been cleaned and your entire site is now free of malware and safe for visitors, check the box “I have fixed these issues” and click the Request a Review button.
- In the pop-out box, write a detailed description on how you cleaned your site and resolved the security issues. It is best you write a sentence or two for each security issue, explaining how you resolved it.
: If you have requested a review and you missed cleaning up or resolving some security issues, your request will fail and you will get more sample URLs in the Security Issues
page in Webmaster Tools
. You will have to resolve these before submitting another request for a review.
If your site has been hacked with malware, Google’s anti-malware
system will automatically scan your site once you click Request a review
. This may take a few days for Google
- If there are no more problems listed in the Security Issues page, then you should go to their Report Incorrect Phishing Warning form at www.google.com/safebrowsing/report_error and fill out the form. After you submit, this will tell Google to review your site and remove the phishing warnings on the pages you have cleaned.
If your site didn’t have phishing issues in the first place, the form can also serve as a reporting tool, enabling you to tell Google that your pages were incorrectly flagged.
: The review process may vary, depending on the security issues involved. Phishing review
may take about a day to resolve, malware issues
may take about a few days, while a hacked site
may take up to several weeks.
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