Google blacklists ATUG website

ATUG unaware of the label when contacted by Computerworld

Hackers may have hit the Australian Telecommunications User Group (ATUG) website, according to Google which has placed security threat warnings across all pages displayed in searches.

The flag — which reads "this site may harm your computer" — underscores all ATUG web pages and documents generated in Google searches. Google's badware security warning page advises users to avoid the site.

ATUG, Australia's equivalent of TUANZ, was unaware of the label when contacted by Computerworld Australia.

The blacklists are produced by an alliance of online consumer protection groups, telcos and security vendors including AOL, VeriSign and Google, and stored in a clearinghouse maintained by StopBadware.org, a security watchdog used by Google to identify and evaluate malicious websites.

Google reported malicious content on the ATUG website, although it refused to divulge specifics on the alert.

A Google spokesperson contacted by Computerworld for a separate article refused to comment on how often the company re-checks flagged websites; however, employee Phil Harton said in a blog posting that it can take up to two weeks to remove alerts once badware has been wiped.

"We've begun sending email notifications to some of the web masters of sites that we flag for badware. We don't have a perfect process for determining a web master's email address, so for now we're sending the notifications to likely Web master aliases for the domain in question," Harton said.

The response times vary depending on the extent of infection and how quickly exploits are fixed, according to StopBadware.org.

"Google is the sole decider for initial decisions to post a warning page for a website [and it] does not rely on any testing or reports from StopBadware in making these initial decisions," the company stated on its website.

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