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Google Temporarily Flags Bit.ly Links as Malicious

Over the weekend, numerous users noticed that Google was blocking them from accessing websites behind Bit.ly shortened links because they presumably contained malware.

Over the weekend, numerous users noticed that Google was blocking them from accessing websites behind Bit.ly shortened links because they presumably contained malware.

The situation has now been addressed, but it’s uncertain why Google’s Safe Browsing, the service that protects Internet users against phishing and malware attacks, flagged the links as being malicious in the first place.

“Of the 91854 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 735 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2014-10-26, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2014-10-26,” a report on the Google Safe Browsing website shows. “Malicious software includes 199 trojan(s), 188 exploit(s), 152 scripting exploit(s). Successful infection resulted in an average of 3 new process(es) on the target machine.”

Google says the website itself hasn’t hosted any malware, but it has functioned as an intermediary for the infection of 39 other websites.

During the time in which bit.ly links were blocked by Google, Bit.ly switched all new links to Bitly.com. “Bit.ly is the only domain experiencing this issue. Branded Short Domains and rest of the business are not impacted,” Bit.ly said on Twitter.

The issue affected only Chrome and Firefox users. According to reports on social media platforms, the official Bit.ly blog was also impacted.

After the problem was resolved, Bit.ly noted that its services were “incorrectly listed in Google Safebrowsing which caused users to receive a malware warning.” The company highlighted on Saturday that no data or Bitlinks had been compromised.

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In May, the URL shortening service informed customers that their account credentials might have been compromised. At the time, the company advised users to change their API key and OAuth token, reset their password, and reconnect their social media accounts.

 

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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