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Google: Your computer appears to be infected

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Google infectionGoogle has recently began issuing warnings to potentially a couple of million Internet users that their computers are infected with a type of malware that hijacks search engine results. Yes, if you see it, the alert is genuine. Sure, we’re used to seeing Google warning us about possible dodgy web pages in search results, but this time they’re able to go a step further and warn about a particular type of malicious software infection.

The warning appears as a prominent notification at the top of their Google search results page:

Google malware warning screenshot

Screenshot of the image Google is displaying to notify users of infected PCs.

The warning message reads:

Your computer appears to be infected
It appears that your computer is infected with software that intercepts your connection to Google and other sites. Learn how to fix this.

Google security engineer, Damian Menscher, reports, “… recently Google found some unusual search traffic while performing routine maintenance on one of our data centres.” After investing the problem they found computers infected with a particular strain of malware were responsible for this. The malware seems to have gotten onto people’s computers via roughly a hundred variants of rougue/fake antivirus software which have been in circulation for a while.

Why would the cyber criminals be doing this? Usually it’s so that they can modify the Google search results to point to money making pay-per-click web sites instead.

Fortunately, this malware is using a unique traffic signature which Google is able to detect and then serve up the warning on infected computers. The warning includes a link to resources to help remove the infection. And of course, install and update you antivirus software is Google’s first recommendation on how to fix your computer.

Naturally, we’d suggest using AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition or AVG Internet Security to perform a system scan and remove the malware, plus then protect you against future attacks.

It’s great that Google are doing all of this. Unfortunately however, it may be only a short time before the bad guys start to play on our knowledge of this problem and leverage it to enhance the legitimacy of their scams.

Email Scam: It’s quite possible you may soon receive spam email messages pretending to be from Google. The message will warn you of the problem and suggest you click on a link to fix the problem. But in this case the link will take you off to a web page where they’ll try to drive-by download malware onto your computer, or trick you in some way into giving them money. So be alert people! Google will not be sending out such emails.

Phone Scam: It’s also quite possible that the guys doing the phone scare scams will switch to using this story as their opening line. In stead of claiming to be from “Windows Security” or such, they’ll be claiming to be representing Google. Please ignore them. Google will not be making such calls, nor asking others to do so.

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