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Google slaps 'repeat offender' tag on unsafe sites

Incorrigible Safe Browsing violators now get flagged for 30 days.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
November 9, 2016
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Google is closing a loophole in its Safe Browsing search policy. While it already flags sites that violate its malware, phishing and other policies, bad actors can temporary halt those activities. Then, once the warnings are removed, they resume, and unsuspecting searchers are none the wiser. Starting today, however, Google is flagging such sites as "repeat offenders," and webmasters won't be able to appeal the warnings for 30 days.

Hacked websites will not be classified as repeat offenders; "only sites that purposefully post harmful content will be subject to the policy," Google notes. There's nothing stopping you from clicking on a link anyway, of course, but a Google Search warning will no doubt dissuade a lot of users. In addition, Google Chrome will put up another warning page that will probably convince the majority of users to not enter a dangerous site.

Google's Safe Search no doubt stops a lot of hacking, and the new policy will help. What's really needed is a way to stop or limit the damage from email phishing attacks, however. Those have caused some of the largest breeches on the internet, reportedly including the hack of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.

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