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PS If you’re seeing a preview of this text, my site is safe and malware free. Keep reading My IZEA Malware story below to get all the details. This site will show a warning until Google fixes it. Being at the mercy of Google is just fantastic.

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

izea media malware

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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About The Author

Jenny

Hi there! I'm Jenny, a coffee-addicted, busy-body, work at home mom of two insane boys age 11 & 6. I'm married to my best friend, obsessed with the Packers, and I love to cook, read, and design blogs (I'm kindof a geek). I love to hear from my readers so leave a comment below to join the conversation!

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

  1. Jack Yan says:

    I feel your pain, Jenny. Our own ad server was hacked on April 7 and our tech guy and I fixed everything within hours. Six days later, even though the ad server was given the OK by Google, every site that we had that had that ad server’s code was still flagged. The Google forums are useless—the guy there helped me once but then gave up when I came back to him to tell him that Google was still stuffing me around. (They are part of the cult, and don’t like hearing their favourite site dissed.) Stop Badware and Sucuri analysed our sites and found them clean. Eventually, we had to take down our (clean) ad server, and remove all its code, to get our sites cleared by Google (after we had clients send us messages cancelling their advertising with us and our email provider threaten to cancel our account). Our traffic was hit badly, too.
    I can still point you to a clean site today that is still blocked by Google six weeks later after the same hack, even though Google’s own malware warning now says the site is clean. The idea that Google’s bot goes back and clears you within five hours is a complete myth. Go to the Google product forums and you can even find one guy blocked for two months.
    Interestingly, I left the old code on a site that is not well frequented, and Google hasn’t picked that one up. We reinstalled the entire ad server from scratch tonight.
    My feeling is that the malware bot is totally fallible, and the people behind it don’t want to know when it’s messed up. I found out through one highly placed source that two part-time guys work on it inside Google. That’s right: Chrome, Firefox, and various security suites all rely on the Google bot, but the guys in charge of it aren’t even at work half the time.
    This is the same company that spied on users who opted out of targeted advertising through a dodgy cookie, and spied on Iphone users who opted out of being tracked till it got busted by The Wall Street Journal. I bet the Google bot never picked up those little items of malware.
    Anyone else who goes around publishing false accusations could be sued for libel. Yet Google thinks it is above it all. It’s a terrible state of affairs, and I wish companies would stop relying on a bot that seems to do more harm than good. Ironically, it even blocked YouTube earlier this year.

    • Mama-Jen says:

      Jack Yan Thank you for sharing your insights Jack! I didn’t even think about how this could affect ad publishing companies but now that I see it from your side, what a pain that must have been (and still is!).
       I hope that one day we can all be out from underneath Google’s thumb but I won’t be holding my breath.

      • Jack Yan says:

        @Mama-Jen Hi Jenny: we publish, too, like you, but we run a separate server for ads just so we can control who sees what from which ad network (we use several). Ever since a Google SNAFU a few years ago, I removed everything I could: accounts at Feedburner, blogs at Blogger, my YouTube account, my Adsense account, etc. I guess I found out the hard way that Google is evil, and this was the latest incident on just how incompetent and uncaring the firm is. I think the only thing we can do is spread the word so that people are warned about Google’s unreliability: it shocked me how many people relied on its word, without question, when a simple test of your site or our sites would have revealed that there was nothing wrong.

  2. Maddie K says:

    Wow…what a pain in the ass, right? I was having some issues last night and was using google chrome and got a notification just like what you got, but when I went to IE9 I didn’t get it. Since it’s a blog that I go to a lot I ignored it, but now I have to tell the blog owner.

  3. lisa says:

    I just went to one of my favorite blogs and saw a warning. How do I as a reader know what’s real?

    • Mama-Jen says:

      Honestly Lisa, if it’s one of your favorite blogs, I really don’t think they would ever add malware to their site on purpose. Like, I would never do that. Malware warnings on blogs most like come from an advertisement that happens to show up on their blog and is no fault of the blogger itself. It’s up to you if you want to skip the error. If it were me, and a blog I loved, I would. :)

  4. ChelesaSims1 says:

    I have came across sites that have that test come up . Iam so glad that you take the time to fix it because I like reading your blog and otherwise I wouldnt go your blog if I saw the malware test thing.

  5. [...] and you’re getting the big nasty red Google malware warning shown above. Bummer… I’ve totally been there. The first thing you need to do is figure out what is causing the warning and remove anything [...]

  6. cathy henatyszen says:

    things like this are not fun…
     
    myself, I advertise on craigslist, and often get those nice scammers who are ‘out of town’ and will ‘send a shipper’ … I play them out, and DO TAKE THE TIME to forward all their emails to the appropriate places…
     
    most   dot coms   have a spoof@  for such emails… like spoof @ paypal.com  some you have to take the time to call, like fedex was not spoof, it was something else, but the ONLY way to stop this stuff is for the average person like you and me to take a few minutes out of our day to deal with it properly…
     
    maybe this info will help someone… I hope it does.
     
    happy modeming and happy holidays to all!!!

  7. freebiespot says:

    @TheKenJones @unmaskparasites Thanks for RT’ing my IZEA “adventure”!

  8. carribright says:

    Hi Jenny,
     
    First, please allow me to apologize that you had to go 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 from the beginning.
     
    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

    • Mama-Jen says:

      Thanks for your comment Carri. I do appreciate you taking the time to reach out to me. Unfortunately this was just handled rather unprofessionally by IZEA. At this point, 2 days after the fact, I still have not received a “heads up” email from IZEA about this. Think of the thousands of sites out there that have no idea why their site is blacklisted, and remains blacklisted. As the cause of this issue, it is your responsibility to “man up” and inform everyone.

  9. Mama-Jen says:

    On 9/22/12 at roughly 8:30pm ET, Google finally showed the “Request a Review” button for my site in Google Webmaster Tools, over 35 hours after I removed IZEA Media from my site.
     
    As of 1:20am on 9/23/12, Freebie Spot is no longer displaying the scary, red warning box. At this time, my site still has the malware warning next to my URLs in Google search results until Google does its next update.
     
    This has been such a nightmare. :-(

  10. jeffmarias2001 says:

    Is there anyway we can find out which link we are backlinking  to you??When your site gets cleared does that mean our sites (a site backlinking) will be cleared too? I have never had this happen to me in the past and am clueless! So sorry this is happening to anyone!!

    • Mama-Jen says:

       @jeffmarias2001 You will only get a malware warning on a specific post or page if you link directly to one of my images. If you don’t see anything, then you’re fine. Plus, you should always host images on your own website anyway. :)
       
      I am on the second step with getting my site cleaned with Google. Just playing the waiting game. Once my site is clear, any sites hotlinking my images will be as well. There’s nothing you need to do on your site if you weren’t affected directly.
       
      Hope that helps!

  11. Carolyn says:

    Gosh, so sorry to hear about your troubles.  Good grief, what a frustrating day for you!

  12. Freebie Spot says:

    Yeah it is pretty crazy. Nothing like being completely owned by Google at the moment. :( Wish they would just hurry up already!

  13. JacquelineDiaz says:

    Still shows up! It seems like alot of this kind of stuff is going on lately!

    • Mama-Jen says:

       @JacquelineDiaz There were thousands of website affected by the IZEA Media malicious code. Some were just removed from the blacklist a little while ago. Unfortunately I’m still waiting.

  14. Laura Miller says:

    I was about to ask, lol….it even stops me from opening your emails.

  15. romapr09 says:

    There is another blog I am getting this message from besides yours. I know your site and the other site are safe so I still came to yours and their site. Hope it gets resolved soon. Technology can be so frustrating sometimes! 

  16. Freebie Spot says:

    You’re welcome Jen Boehme! Just waiting on Google at this point (and for 13 hours now..) :-(

  17. Jen Boehme says:

    thanks, mine stopped me from opening it too.

  18. Krystal M says:

    Thanks for letting me know I had nothing to worry about! I got the message earlier in the day, just as I was reading through my RSS Feed (Google Reader)… so hopefully that hasn’t scared off other readers. I hope your issues get fixed and that your readership goes back to normal soon!

    • Mama-Jen says:

       @Krystal M Thanks so much for your comment Krystal. And I’m glad you trust me enough to click through. I would never ever intentionally do anything like this and Google makes it looks like I am, all because IZEA Media let a bad advertisement in their network. This is such a pain in the butt. :(

  19. ahensnest says:

    This is exactly what has happened with my site — it is truly disheartening as I’ve lost a whole day of traffic, revenue and work trying to get this fixed. I had to keep refreshing the Malware page in Webmaster Tools for the “Request a Review” button to show up, Finally! 5 hours later and my site is just now saying there is no longer Malware in Webmaster Tools. I still have the big read warning box though so I am not sure how long it will take for that lovely gem to go away. Just wanted to say I know how you feel and this sucks!

    • Mama-Jen says:

       @ahensnest I am still waiting for the “request a review” button. I have been refreshing the page all day. :( I am very upset with Izea and feel completely helpless because there is nothing I can do at this point. Like you, seeing the drop in traffic, as well as everything else, is just so sad.
       
      Thanks for stopping by and making a comment!

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