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Google: Your Site Contains Malware; Me: Umm What?! My IZEA Malware Story.

This post was from a mom blog I use to write. Its content was too good not to share. Enjoy.

This morning, I woke up to something super duper fun.

Yeah.. for real.

After some digging, I found out the error was related to a JavaScript code placed on my site for IZEA Media network which is an advertising network. You see, a lot of bloggers belong to different advertising networks such as Google AdSense and IZEA Media. These advertising networks pay bloggers to put advertisements on their sites, like this one.

At approximately 9:20am ET this morning, I located the culprit (IZEA Media JavaScript code) and removed it from my site immediately. Then I began frantically searching the internet to figure out how to remove the big, nasty, red your site sucks box. I discovered that I was supposed to visit Google Webmaster Tools >> Health >> Malware and then click the “Request Review” button. Well guess what? I do not have a “Request Review” button. And after even more searching, I found that it can take a day or two just for this button to appear! Great.

I also stumbled upon a site called StopBadware and learned that I can request a manual review of my site which reportedly may speed things up, which I did also. And it’s still “in progress” since approximately 9:30am.

My next order of business? To contact IZEA Media by email and thank them for the wonderful day I’ve had. The conversation:

Me (9/21/12 10:33am):

I had to remove your ad from my site because Google reported my site as malicious due to your “desktop head tag” code. Thanks for that.. I’m very upset about this. My site is blacklisted now because of your code!

IZEA Media (9/21/12 10:34am):

We are aware of the issue, and we have since removed the offending advertiser but until Google does a diagnostic check (which they are in the process of going through) the warning will still appear. There is no threat of actually downloading malware or contracting malware to your device, the advertiser has been banned by our partner network. You will not need a new ad tag as this was an ad from our partner site and was not actually attached to the ad tag. As soon as Google has completed the diagnostic check the warning will go away.

Me (9/21/12 11:11am):

Thanks all fine and dandy however my site is now blacklisted by Google thanks to this ad. How did this ad get through in the first place?

I have been working on getting my site removed from the blacklist for 2 hours because of the ad IZEA allowed to display. I am extremely upset about this. My readers are now concerned that I am a scam site that places viruses on their computers.

IZEA Media (9/21/12 11:33am):

Unfortunately with online advertising there is always a risk of malware getting through. While we and our other third part networks put checks in place to prevent this from happening occasionally something can slip through. This is the case with any online advertising network. Once Google has completed the diagnostic scan the warning should go away unless you are working with the third party network in question in another one of your ad placements.

Me (9/21/12 12:26pm):

So are you providing Google with a list of all affected sites (like mine) so they can remove the blacklist that was placed on them? Otherwise my site, and all others, will remain on Google’s blacklist until they are notified of each individual URL that was affected by this malicious ad.

IZEA Media (9/21/12 1:00pm):

Google has a list of all of our sites since we partner with them. If you remove the ad tag completely from your site the malware warning will go away. You can then choose to place the ad tag live again when the malware warning has been lifted.

Me (9/21/12 1:05pm):

Yes, I did remove the script from my site by 9:20am ET. Unfortunately Google is still reporting my site as suspicious 4 hours later. See http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=freebiespot.net

IZEA Media (9/21/12 1:25pm):

Every other blogger that removed the ad tag has not had the malware warning once the ad tag has been removed. It is possible one of your other ad tags is hosting the malware as well. (which is a lie, see this blog post at IZEA)

Me (9/21/12 1:32pm):

I know that it is the only tag. It’s still has the same warning when I do a site scan. It’s because Google hasn’t released the block on my site. Hopefully you guys sent a list of all sites affected to Google so they can remove all the malware blocks set.

IZEA Media (9/21/12 1:47pm):

If you’re running any of the same ad networks as we are you could be experiencing the same issue we were. The issue was not with our network but one of our partner networks and we’re waiting in queue to be reviewed by Google. Since our network is so large it takes awhile to process but if you’d like to submit your own review you may do so by going here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools and since it is only one site it could speed up the process for your site.

Me (9/21/12 2:17pm):

Yes I submitted my site for removal over 5 hours ago and I’m still waiting. What a pain in the butt this all is. So disheartening, and meanwhile my visitors still see that I’m a “spam” site. Lovely.

And that was the last response. It is now nearly 6pm and I have heard nothing back from the Director of Advertising Operations at IZEA Media.

Meanwhile, the “Request Review” link still hasn’t shown up from Google, and my site still has a malware warning. Not to mention, any sites that are “hot linking” to my images are receiving notices that this blog is a malware site. What a glorious way to ruin a site’s reputation. Today, my site has had one-third of the traffic that it normally has.

Thanks, IZEA.

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Jenny :: Simple Mama

My passion is transforming not so good for you recipes into something healthy yet still keeping them delicious. Lately I'm going keto. I’m a super busy mom of 2 sports-crazed boys and in my 9-5 I'm a Senior Project Manager for a kick ass web design company.

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