Hacker News.com (a good site, despite the name) recently reported that Google has acquired online virus-scanning service VirusTotal, a provider of a free service that detects computer viruses and other malicious software in files and Internet websites.
VirusTotal’s website allows anyone to enter the name of a file or a website they suspect to be infected and their malware scanning software goes to work looking for viruses and other malware. It then reports to you what they found. We’re all acquainted with malware packages that scan our computers, including our files; but this product scans a website for malware.
This product is useful for checking out websites before we visit them; thus avoiding malicious sites poised to infect our computers. See Bad Websites Are Increasing for more information on malicious websites. Admittedly, this cautious approach will slow down our “surfing speed” as we visit sites. However, if we only scanned sites that seem suspicious to us or sites we are visiting for the first time, we’d still be safer knowing a site was malicious or not before we entered it. Thus saving us from being infected by a bad site.
Google has been buying other technology companies all year, so what’s so special about this acquisition? [Caution, Paul getting excited here.] What if Google was buying VirusTotal to integrate it with the Google search engine? The result could be a very good scan of every site in your list of Google search results with a “good site” or “bad site” flag on each site on the list, possibly bad sites wouldn’t even be allowed in the results list. See why I’m getting excited about this possibility? This would, in one fell stroke, increase the safety of using the Internet more than any other event I can think of, possibly ever! Sure, WOT and McAfee perform a similar function, but they both have their drawbacks. WOT depends on users to 1. recognize a malicious site, and 2. report it to WOT. McAfee uses a set of criteria to determine if a site is good or bad.
“Websites can gain bad or malicious reputations for a variety of reasons. Reputations can be based on full domains and any number of subdomains, as well as on a single IP address or even a specific URL. Malicious reputations are influenced by the hosting of malware, potentially unwanted programs, or phishing sites. Often we observe combinations of questionable code and functionality. These are several of the factors that contribute to our rating of a site’s reputation.”
This is an acceptable and effective “scan” also, however, you have to purchase McAfee Internet Security to enjoy their website scanning and rating.
If Google were to move in the direction I am hoping, and if they integrated the functionality at no cost to the user; they’d leave Bing and any other competing search engine completely in their dust. That is, in addition to becoming the savior of the Internet and every Internet users hero for life. Google, are you listening?
As always, I appreciate your comments on this subject…so please do. And be careful out there…it’s extremely dangerous these days.
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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.