Google blacklisted the domain of netseer.com in response to a malware attack on the site, triggering a chain reaction that led to a number of high-traffic websites being flagged.
This included sites such as ZDNet and The Guardian UK. According to NetSeer, the situation was resolved as of 9:30 a.m. PT.
The situation began when netseer.com was hacked and infected with malware. After the hack, Google added the domain to its list of sites affected by malware, and Chrome and other browsers began blocking any sites that had netseer.com code.
“Our ad serving infrastructure is completely different from the corporate website but shares the same domain (netseer.com),” NetSeer CEO John Mracek said in a letter posted online for customers. “So although the malware never impacted the ad serving all our ad serving partners saw Chrome and other browsers flagging malware warnings to users. To reiterate, the malware was never served into ad serving stream and the browser behavior was completely due to ad serving and the corporate website sharing the same domain name.”
Google blacklists websites with its Safe Browsing service, which provides lists of URLs that contain malware or other malicious content. Both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox use the lists to steer users away from potential threats. Google also provides a public API for the service.
In addition to ZDNet and The Guardian UK, some users on Twitter also said sites like The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Huffington Post were also being blocked by the Chrome browser.
“While the issue was being addressed with Google we had requested that the affected partners take our tags/pixels off their site,” Mracek said. “If you were affected and haven’t done so, you do not need to take any further action because the issues has been resolved and there should not be any further flags/blocks by Chrome and other browsers. If you have taken our tags/pixels off your site, your NetSeer account rep will communicate further steps shortly.”
“We deeply regret this situation and want to re-emphasize once again that it was our 3rd party hosted corporate website that got compromised and no malware got distributed to or affected our partners,” he added. “We are doing a root-cause-analysis on the security infrastructure of our corporate website hosting vendor and will take appropriate actions, including changing vendors, to ensure that this type of incidents do not affect us or our partners in the future.”