Please Pardon The Dust…

Today, most visitors to GBM were greeted with a scary looking warning that suggested the site is serving malware. We apologize for the inconvenience and wanted to share an update with you. Google tagged GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com as possible distributors of malware. We promptly rectified the problem and the issue and the warning should clear shortly. GottaBeMobile obviously does not distribute malware intentionally and we’ve followed Google’s suggestions to rectify the issue.

As you may know, GottaBeMobile is supported by sponsorships and advertising. We have both direct sponsors (like Motion) and indirect sponsors, which buy ads through ad networks, such as Google. We were relying on an application called Open X to serve ads both here and Notebooks.com.  We’re not 100% sure why, but at some point Open X served some malware. Google, which crawls web sites on a regular basis, quickly put the warning in place to protect all visitors.

Please note that we take security very seriously here and are taking steps to make sure our readers aren’t exposed to malware. As soon as we saw the warning this morning we went into action. Rather than attempt to patch OpenX or figure out exactly how bad code entered the system, we removed all Open X code from our sites. We’re in the process of migrating to Google’s own ad server, Doubleclick, which is hosted and maintained by Google. While Open X has generally been reliable for us over the years, it’s another application on our servers that we have to maintain and patch. I’d rather spend time writing and discussing technology with our readers than worrying about managing yet another application.

As of this posting, Google and malware clearinghouse StopBadware.org are still listing our sites as suspicious even though we’ve cleared the issue to the best of our abilities. We’ve asked for a review and have been told the issue should be clear sometime between now and 24 hours from now. The review process is automated and we have to wait for a Google’s robots to crawl of the sites again. We are working with our hosting provider to make sure there are no remnants of malware.

We hope everything’s back to normal as quickly as possible. We highly suggest that you always surf safely and use anti-malware software on all of your systems. There are many good systems available at low or no cost, such as AVG and Microsoft Security Essentials.

We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your patience and for all of your kind notes.

UPDATE: We appear to be in the clear and wthe warning should no longer be in place.

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Comments

  1. GoodThings2Life says

    Ironically, I recently implemented the Cisco Botnet Traffic Filter on my Cisco-based firewalls at work. The #1 blocked/limited domain by the Botnet filter is DoubleClick. It is literally *constantly* being flagged by the filter as having been compromised in some manner by serving up spyware and malware.

    Fortunately, the filter only blocks the malicious content and the rest of the content is left alone rather than blocking sites outright (unless, of course, the main site is on the list too).

    The point of saying this is that I sadly don’t think that DoubleClick is any safer than OpenX. There are going to be malicious/compromised ad-servers regardless of provider.

  2. ericthebikeman says

    I thought that was just me. Kaspersky at work caught it trying to open Windows Media and killed it.

  3. tabletenvy says

    Likewise. Eset antivirus blocked access to the site a month or so ago. Couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. Thought it was some coincidence….

  4. dlr8 says

    I did get infected from visiting your website on 9/4/2010.

    I do use Microsoft Security Essentials however,since it updates automatically once every 24 hours I got infected before the latest updates were installed. I now just run a manual update as soon as my system boots.

    I had to do a restore to a previous date to remove the infection.

    Thanks for admitting and discussing this issue with your readers.

    As you can see, I will continue to visit your website.

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