Malware! Huah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing—unless you’re trying to profit by infecting people’s computers with malware, in which case you’re acting jerk-ily. Good news/bad news, though: Google can now detect certain types on malware on your computer and help you fix it.
It’s good news for people who want to know when their computers have been infected, and bad news for people who think Google already knows too much about them. Whatever your disposition, here’s how it works.
Certain strains of malware hijack your internet connection and re-route your destination to sites trying to sell you stuff or further infect your computer. If you’ve ever opened your web browser and been taken to a page other than the page you’ve designated as your home page, that’s malware, baby.
(PHOTOS: A History of Google Doodles)
The thing is, Google can actually detect certain types of malware based on the traffic that’s being sent through its servers. Google recently discovered a particular strain of malware and, in a company blog post, said:
“This particular malware causes infected computers to send traffic to Google through a small number of intermediary servers called ‘proxies.’ We hope that by taking steps to notify users whose traffic is coming through these proxies, we can help them update their antivirus software and remove the infections.”
So if you’re surfing the web on your computer and your traffic is being re-routed through one of these proxy servers, Google will be able to alert you once you eventually make your way to one of Google’s sites. Once you find yourself at one of Google’s sites, you’ll see this notification:
The downside here is that the notification looks kind of like a fake notification meant to trick you into clicking on a link in the first place, so people who have learned to ignore “Your computer appears to be infected” messages may dismiss it altogether. Also, malware developers could theoretically make it so that every time you try to go to a Google site, you’re rerouted elsewhere. But then you’d really know something was up, huh?