Saturday, September 22, 2012

Malware Warning! IZEA Media Ads Cause 1,000s of Websites to be Flagged by Google

Hey there.  If you have stopped by my website anytime within the past 24 hours, you may have gotten a message saying that my website may contain malware and it may be dangerous to view my website.  Rest assured that if you proceeded to my site, you were NOT infected with malware.  There was no malware hosted on this site.  The problem?  The IZEA Media Ad block that I was running in the right column.  Turns out that an advertiser purchased a spot in the ad block from IZEA and somehow, someway, that advertiser managed to get through the IZEA screening with some kind of malicious code on their ad.  In effect, Google flagged THOUSANDS of webpages running the IZEA Media Ad block as hosting  malware, causing that red warning screen.

Now, I didn't find out that it was the IZEA Media Ads until this morning.  I noticed that my site was flagged last night at around 8 PM Pacific and tried practically everything to get rid of it.  This morning, our good friend Justin, at Dragonblogger.com, noticed that his site was flagged by Google and he started to do some research.  At about that time, IZEA posted on their blog providing a statement that their ad blocks were to blame.  You can read that statement here.  I was surprised that it was brief post and other than the "we're working on it" message, there really wasn't anything more to take from that post.  If you really want to get into the meat of the problem, read the comments.  Wow!  
I was frustrated and upset, just like many others were.  To have my site down for any period of time is a blow to my reputation.  I do not want my readers to associate my site with having malicious codes ready to infect their computers.  I issued a statement to my fans via Facebook and Google + letting them know what's going on.  Because I still consider myself to be a small fry in the blogging world, I didn't let the outage get me too down.  But some of the bigger guys like Dragonblogger.com and BenSpark.com are a huge influence to many and to have websites of that caliber to be hit is a HUGE shame.  Not only are they losing readers, but they are losing out on generated income via traffic and sales.  How is IZEA planning on accommodating their bloggers???  Especially when many of us have been with IZEA for years?

That is what IZEA faces at this moment.  After reading the comments in their blog post, I was surprised to hear that some of the staff were treating bloggers like this was the bloggers fault and NOT IZEA's.  Now, the people that I have worked with at IZEA have been nothing but good to me.  The company has offered me many income generating opportunities and I am grateful for those opportunities and the doors that they have opened for me.  This is the first time that I have ever encountered an issue with them.  EVER.  With that being said, IZEA needs to do some serious damage control.  There are a lot of unhappy bloggers that are taking a huge hit.  It's a lot of work to build up a fan base, to build an online reputation.  If this issue does not get resolved quickly, years of hard work will be flushed down the drain.  For every minute that a site is flagged for malware, readers are lost, revenue is lost, and reputation is lost.  It would be a shame to have great sites be blacklisted for something that they are not at fault for.

For those of you that are still flagged...  I'm sorry that your site is not up and running just yet.  I'm one of the lucky few that was flagged with the warning and have had the warning removed.  This is how I got rid of it:

  • I removed both snippets of code for the IZEA Media Ads (html code embedded in your template and the html placement code in your layout)
  • I signed in to Google Webmaster Tools, clicked on my site, clicked on "Health" and then Malware.  If the button to review your site is available, click on it for Google to review (if you do not see a review button, try refreshing the page a few times).  If you do not see a review button, click on "Fetch as Google" and click on the Fetch button.
  • After Google fetches your site, check the Malware section for the Review button again.
  • After all that was done, I went to StopBadware.org and clicked on Website Owners near the top.
  • I searched for my site (without www before your domain name.  Eg. metallman.com NOT www.metallman.com)
  • Your website should come up with a yellow circle next to it.  Click on your website.
  • Click on Request an Independent Review of Data Provider's Findings
  • Sign up, provide your Email and wait...
That's what I did and after a short while, I received an Email from StopBadware that my site is clean and off blacklists.  I am not sure if this will work for everyone but I strongly suggest you give it a try.  ESPECIALLY if Google Webmaster Tools is not offering you the button to review.  

I saw a huge dip in traffic today but I can honestly say that I didn't lose out on any major earning opportunities.  At this point, I'm just glad that my site is up and running.  If you don't mind sharing, I'm curious to know whether or not the above helped in any way  Good luck, friends!!!  Later!

13 comments:

I was affected as well and some people can see my site from different browsers now and some can't ...i still get the warning in Chrome (haven't yet tested IE)...this sucks!! Thank you for sharing your fix. I still get don't have the Request Review link yet in Webmaster Tools :-( it's going on a full day now! I submitted my request yesterday with StopBadware so hopefully they can help speed things up this weekend.

Hey there Lakesha. Yeah, it's a huge pain having to deal with this. Try refreshing the Malware page in Webmaster Tools. I didn't get the button at first either, but after refreshing the page a few times, it popped up. I hope you can get your page off the blacklist real soon!

I think the response from IZEA has gotten more people irritated. I had an e-mail exchange telling them my site had been blacklisted which knocked me out of Google News, and the person told me no one had been blacklisted. When I showed her a list of people on the blog that actually had been, they got rather terse in their answers.


At least some sites are getting back to business. Many of us are still out of luck and when you go from getting 100K traffic daily to 20K that's a huge hit, and I've a feeling IZEA will just be stating everything's all clear with no apologies.

Hey there Curt. You're right. The response from IZEA has pretty half assed on their part and from what I hear, their Email correspondence was even worse. IZEA has been more than a decent company and I believe this mishap will leave a black eye on them. They should have posted an outline of what we could do to speed along the process of getting Google to remove us from the blacklist but instead, left it up to us to figure it out and share the information among ourselves.

It's great that people like you who's site have recovered are putting out articles for those that have no idea. now you've got another reader of your site from this mess!


What's even worse is that sites that hotlinked images from affected sites also got the blacklist, but they have no idea where to even start since the last place you imagine malware is from a linked image!


After ours gets back up, I'll get an article on Google New that at least will keep the information flowing for others who may have just realized they've got a red scary box introducing their site. My webmaster found one of the culprit sites that had either intentionally or been hacked to put out malware, and this one even had an IZEA category that set off the nasty storm.

Thanks for listing the steps for everyone. I am still blacklisted and no "button" has shown up for me yet on Google webmaster tools. This is a nightmare! I am glad to hear that some people have gotten their sites back. I have lost quite a bit of income since yesterday morning. I will not work with Izea again.

Hey there Julia. Sorry to hear that your site is still not up. This has definitely been a nightmare to many and what seems to irk the majority of those affected is the nonchalant attitude of IZEA. If I were them, I would have jumped on this, get an Email out to everyone with steps on what to do. Instead, we were left out in the cold and many bloggers only found out of the issue by other blogging friends.

This is from Curt. Not sure it's not showing up in the comments so I'm posting it again.


"It's great that people like you who's site have recovered are putting out articles for those that have no idea. now you've got another reader of your site from this mess! What's even worse is that sites that hotlinked images from affected sites also got the blacklist, but they have no idea where to even start since the last place you imagine malware is from a linked image! After ours gets back up, I'll get an article on Google New that at least will keep the information flowing for others who may have just realized they've got a red scary box introducing their site. My webmaster found one of the culprit sites that had either intentionally or been hacked to put out malware, and this one even had an IZEA category that set off the nasty storm."

First, please allow me to apologize that you have to got through this at all. As this has never happened to us before, we just weren't prepared for the magnitude of issue this would create and there are clearly things we wish we could have gone back and done differently in reaching out or information that we wish we knew yesterday.

That being said, I do want to thank you for creating the step by step instructions of what worked for you. I took the liberty of sharing this on the SocialSpark blog in the hopes that it will be useful to others.

Obviously, this situation was never our intention and we are anxious to see all blogs affected restored to normalcy as soon as possible. We will continue to monitor and do what we can to work through this.

All the Best,
Carri Bright
Sr. Manager, Community & Support
IZEA

Thanks for the comment, Carri. I'm flattered that you took the time to check out my humble site and read my post. I am sure that you guys are busting your tails off to rectify the problem, I just felt that because I had to figure out how to request reviews from Google and StopBadware, I should share my experience with others. I'm glad that I have a small part in helping out my fellow bloggers in getting their sites back up and runnning.

Hey Victor


Have you attempted to put any more Social Spark IZEA ads up yet. Just got my Google clean bill of health and waiting for next steps, but definitely leery right now of putting up another ad right now.


Carri's been great as she commented on my post too as yours. At least there's one there who's really trying to keep the info flowing!

Hey there Curt. I'm not going to put up the ads just yet. Not until there is word from IZEA that all is well. Considering that there are still sites out there still flagged, I wouldn't want to risk going back on Google's blacklist after fighting so hard to get off.

Thanks for this post. I was about to put IZEA ads to my blog www.theFunLearning.com. Thanks to this post I will not be doing it now.

Post a Comment