Sunday, May 18, 2008

Small Steps by Google...Big Help in Firefox 3

Early in February, I went on a bit of a rant when I encountered a "feature" of Firefox 3.

Namely, being prevented by Firefox 3's "Suspicious website checker" mechanism.

The gist of my complaint was that while this feature was great (and can be disabled) the lack of information from Google on the danger of the site, or the ability to go forward at my own peril, was terribly frustrating.

Trying to get information as to the true nature of the threat is vital (to me at least) especially when the forbidden site was/is one I may trust and have previously recommended.

Seems like Google may have gotten the message that more information is sometimes better.

Now Google will provide a Safe Browsing diagnostic page which "might" provide additional information for threat assessment by including the following information:

  • What is the current listing status for [the site in question]?
    We display the current listing status of a site and also information on how often a site or parts of it were listed in the past.

  • What happened when Google visited this site?
    This section includes information on when we analyzed the page, when it was last malicious, what kind of malware we encountered and so fourth.   To help web masters clean up their site, we also provide information about the sites that were serving malicious software to users and which sites might have served as intermediaries.

  • Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
    Here we provide information if this site has facilitated the distribution of malicious software in the past. This could be an advertising network or statistics site that accidentally participated in the distribution of malicious software.

  • Has this site hosted malware?
    Here we provide information if the the site has hosted malicious software in the past. We also provide information on the victim sites that initiated the distribution of malicious software.
  • Information included is for only the past ninety day period.

    This page will be able to be accessed from the interstitial warning page a user who clicks the Google-provided link first sees.

    Of joy to me personally is word that it will now also be provided within Firefox 3's "additional information" warning page when such an attack-branded website is encountered when this feature is turned on in Firefox 3.

    New and Improved! Note second button!

    Finally for those who wish to learn more about the methods Google uses for these web page security threat-detection sweeps, a link to Google's detailed tech report [pdf] is provided.

    I guess it's progress!


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