Several days ago, chinaSMACK and its associated sites were blacklisted by Google as suspected of hosting malware. The immediate effect of this was that your browser may have shown you a warning when you tried visiting our sites.
Upon discovery, we immediately investigated. We checked our own server and code but identified no malware or security compromises. We used several third-party scans to check our site as well, which identified nothing suspicious or compromised. Eventually, two separate services of Google cited two advertising networks (AdExcite & BuySellAds) as having suspected malware. One was automatically and immediately disabled by our ad server while we manually removed the other ad network.
After identifying the two possible culprits, we contacted both ad networks for more information. Here is the response from AdExcite:
We received your inquiry regarding the recent malware issue. Here’s an accounting of what occurred:
On Sunday December 30, AdExcite was the target of a network breach from an unauthorized third party. While we resolved this situation in our system within two hours, and there is no evidence that any malware currently exists, a small number of our publisher partners received Malware classification from Google.
We take these events very seriously, and have rigid security protocols in place at AdExcite to detect, diagnose and monitor any potential malicious activity within minutes, working closely with our cloud server partner Rackspace. Unfortunately, this type of malicious attack is a constant risk to publishers and online media companies such as AdExcite, and we are committed to combatting this activity immediately and continually working to minimize the risk of reoccurrence.
To confirm, there is currently no malware risk associated with the AdExcite code on your site.
According to Google, cS and its associated sites are no longer on Google’s blacklists at this point.
If you’re still seeing a warning from your browser, be sure to click on the link for more information (ie. “Why was this page blocked?”). You should see the latest information from Google directly and it should show: “This site is not currently listed as suspicious.”
You can use the site as usual by ignoring the browser warning if you are still seeing it or, if you want, you can also just wait until your browser updates its own information to no longer show the warning.
cS relies on advertising to continue serving the site to over 40-60k visits each day. Like our advertising partners, we do our best to keep our site not only available to our fans and readers but also safe and secure. While this incident was not a fault of our own, we again apologize for the scare and inconvenience.