Google Falsely Accusing People Of Having Spyware?

from the details-please dept

zanek writes “It isn’t just security software that’s getting too strict. Google actively blocks certain queries with messages like: “A computer virus or spyware application is sending us automated requests, and it appears that your computer or network has been infected.” It seems that they’ve actually taken to blacklisting legit users in an effort to combat shady search-engine-optimization outfits. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.” It’s not entirely clear what’s going on here, so it doesn’t make sense to jump to conclusions — but to have Google tell people their searches are blocked because they’ve somehow detected malware on that user’s computer seems quite odd. Anyone who knows care to shed some light on what’s really happening?


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Comments on “Google Falsely Accusing People Of Having Spyware?”

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24 Comments
Coe (user link) says:

No Subject Given

It sounds to me like there must be spy/malware out there that will use a person’s computer to create false “visits” to improve their standing on Google. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s not going to help the companies who sponsor this sort of activity very much, since the real reason their rankings are low is probably due to a lack of good service and threating to break customer’s necks.

zcat (user link) says:

Re: Worm apparently uses Google to propagate

My previous ISP used to force all their customers web traffic through a ‘transparent proxy’ (which is the main reason I just changed ISP’s!)

Far too often I would find myself blocked from one site or another (google, slashdot, lugradio, and most ‘underground security’ websites) due to abuse by other users on the same ISP, or simply because I was using a proxy.

So if you find yourself banned from google or any other site, first check with ‘whatismyip.com’ and see if your web traffic is being proxied. Then think about changing ISP.

Nathan says:

Google Spyware Warning

I have encountered the Google spyware warning on certain sites, but never through email. I think they are tracking and blocking certain behaviour patterns, not users. For instance, if you enter in the wrong username too many times, they will ask you to validate that you are not a bot by typing in a string of characters from a picture. It is likely a similar algorithm for the spam filter has been used to filter similar behaviour.

Ken Inman says:

Google false accusations about spyware

You asked for any recent experience with Google and Spyware. Well, here’s a short example of what I’ve been dealing with:

I recently had a client who’s “ad-sense” was terminated by Google on the grounds that it was being hit by spyware. However, this was not the case. His web designer had recently run a web based “broken link” report tool on his site. Google mistakenly took this for spyware and terminated the agreement with him.

Now all that I can understand. The part that has me frustrated is that Google provides absolutely NO means by which to appeal such decisions. You’re shut down. Period!

Well, if nothing else was gained here, at least this piece of advice is of some worth: Before running any link checker tools on your site, disable any ad-sense code you may have! You’ll be glad you did.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dont be alarmed

this has happened to me twice before
as it turns out BOTH TIMES i actually did have spyware on my LAN that was spamming google!

and even though i was at fault (i fixed it right away, someone exploited phpbb on my server)
it still let me search using google if proved i was human with one of those mangled pictures where you have to type the word

Bryan Price (user link) says:

I just had it happen to me not that long ago.

I got this the other day. I have a Firefox keyword shortcut/bookmarklet that I use so that all I do is say “go something here and there”, and it searches Google for something here and there. Now, right before this, my wife had sent me a UNO game, and I decided to send it to my Gmail account. Well, stupid me, I just rename it uno.txt and didn’t think about it. I then got the message, which was kind of funny, as I was already in the middle of a Adaware scan anyway.

I checked my gmail account, and found no attachment. But I did see the MZ part of an EXE header tacked on the end of the email. Ooops! I rarred it, and sent it again. No problem.

And while I could not use my shortcut, if I went to go to the main page and do a search, I was allowed the search. I thought it was a bit strange.

I figure that Google blacklisted my IP for the bad email I sent.

Wes says:

No Subject Given

Hi I don’t understand a lot of this stuff but I can’t search anything with google without “typing the letters in the box”. For awhile I couldn’t even use it at all. I have run my spyware checker and anti-virus but I still get the same message and still have to type letters in the box. Do you think I still have some kind of virus? Maybe I need to get my computer reformatted?

AdSense Sucks (user link) says:

Invalid Clicks?

Google burned me good with AdSense.

I had been running their contextual text links on a half dozen of my sites.. after I had earned about $400, they sent me an “invalid clicks” email which looked like it wasn’t even written by a human. I had no idea what they were talking about, and I promptly asked what was up, and nicely offered to fix the problem..

They ignored my responses and I never did see the money.

I would suggest that folks avoid AdSense like the plague. I searched around about this “invalid clicks” issue, and it seems to happen to a lot of people, and it always seems to happen when it’s getting close to payout time. Maybe this is part of a plan to increase their margins?

I’ve since swapped out all my CPC Google AdSense ads with CPA ads from AzoogleAds. I’m making WAY more money with them, and the checks show up on time every month when they’re supposed to. No lame excuses or reps hiding under their desks.

I have earned over $200,000 USD lifetime with them, and I’ve been paid on time every time. I would strongly suggest that folks check them out, and stop running Google AdSense ads on your sites before you get burned too. It seems to be standard protocol. It’s quite unpleasant to drive in thousands of legitimate clicks over the course of a few months for an advertiser, and then get screwed by them when it comes time for them to square up.

I’d also like to mention that I’m NOT an employee of AzoogleAds, nor am I trying to just spam their name out. I have had great personal experiences with them, and I think they’re a rock solid Internet marketing agency.

…and they’ve never burned me like Google AdSense did.. even on 5 figure checks.

Two Thumbs Up!

Whammy

Jack Yan (user link) says:

Five years on, nothing has changed

Well, I got caught up in this one today. No proxies. No malware. No automated queries. Just a regular Joe doing some searches typed by hand, staying within the rules?only to have this message come up: ?We’re sorry… / … but your computer or network may be sending automated queries. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.?

Second time in two years that Google has accused me of doing something that I didn?t do, and last time, we prevailed after six months, thanks to Techdirt (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091228/1803277526.shtml).

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