One can’t be too careful about visiting Web sites and running a risk of contracting a computer virus, so there are all kinds of programs out there to protect us.

A security measure that Google uses  periodically scans sites for possible infections. They are also quick to act on reports of infected sites, which is a good thing when there really is a problem.

Early in January, Google put my site, winnsborotoday.com on alert status.  People who try to access the site get a black screen with a red box in the middle of it that contains the following, “Warning, this site may harm your computer.” Visitors are then given the options to “Get me out of here” or visit the Google site for details about the problem. In the lower right corner of the warning box in very small letters is the option to “ignore this warning and visit the site anyway.”

I first learned about this warning when one of my advertisers called me to ask what was going on. She was concerned that her advertising dollars would be wasted if people could not view the site. And rightly so.

Her call concerned me.  I didn’t want to be infecting anyone’s computer, so I went to the Google site to get the details about the problem. It was weird. In one place it said that there were two instances of some kind of connection to malware. But in another section it said that winnsborotoday.com had not had any problems for the past ninety days.

Talk about a contradiction. For ninety days there was no sign of malware or any other virus, yet Google still put me on alert?

Still,  I didn’t want to take any chances so I scanned my computer and the whole Web site. I notified the company that hosts the site,  and people there checked and double checked the site and all the connections. No sign of a virus.

I was thrilled. That meant I could get this alert lifted and get back to business.

When monkeys fly.

I have contacted Google numerous times asking for them to change my status back. Mind you, contacting them is no easy matter. There is no convenient “help” e-mail addy that goes to a live person. There are no phone numbers listed anywhere on the site. I was given the opportunity to fill out a form to request a review, but the form contained a caution that it could take 6-8 weeks to respond.

Please. It only took them a day to put me on alert, but I have to wait 6-8 weeks to be removed? And each day I watch my numbers drop and my advertisers get more nervous about spending their money with me.

In visiting the Webmaster help forum on the Google site, I discovered that I am not the only Webmaster dealing with this problem and losing business because of it.  The owner of this site posted today that they are also on alert, as are a number of other sites.  All have run scans and come up clean.

And all, like me, are waiting for Google to let them get back to business.

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