Security issues report in Search Console

Team TypeStack
Team TypeStack ...
Dec 02, 2022  . 5 min read
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The Search Console Security Issues report shows warnings when Google finds that your site might have been hacked or used in ways that could potentially harm a visitor or their device. For example, a hacker might inject malicious code in your pages to redirect your users to another site, or to automatically create pages with nonsensical sentences filled with keywords on your site. These are examples of website hacking.

An attacker might also trick users into doing something dangerous, such as revealing confidential information or downloading malicious software. That is called social engineering. When a website is compromised in order to manipulate search rankings, it would probably be labeled as "This site may be hacked" to warn users in the search results.

When a site has been compromised to harm users, browsers with Google Safe Browsing technology enabled may display interstitial warning pages or alerts when files are downloaded. For example, to warn users when they are about to access malicious websites. Google Safe Browsing also labels results in search, such as: "This site may harm your computer."

How to find affected pages?

When Google detects a security issue on a website, Search Console verified site owners will receive an email alerting them about this issue with a link to more information on how to solve it. Hence, read your emails carefully. It is important that you see these alerts as soon as possible.

Even if you miss an email, you can always log in to Search Console to check if you have any issues. In the Overview page, you'll already be notified if you have security issues on your site through a banner at the top of the page. Clicking the alert will lead you to the Security Issues report, where you'll find the list of all security issues

related to your website. Google does its best to check sites for the most common security issues, but you should still keep your eyes open.

You can also navigate to the Messages panel and choose the Security Issues category to see all related messages that have been sent to your website in the past. This can give you context on your website history, especially if you're new to a company or took over an existing website.

To fix a security issue on your site and let Google know, we recommend the following steps.

  • Expand the Security Issue description panel to learn more about the issue, and follow the Learn More link for detailed information and steps to fix it.
  • After you read about it, decide whether you think this is something you can fix. If not, find someone on your team or externally that has web development experience or visit the Webmaster Help Forums.
  • Next you should look at the sample of affected pages given in the Details section so that you can troubleshoot and fix the issues on your site. Sometimes you may not see any examples and still have a security issue. This doesn't mean that no pages are affected, only that Google couldn't generate samples for that specific case.
  • Fix the issue throughout your entire website. Fixing it on just some pages will not solve the problem. So, make sure you leave no pages behind. If the report lists multiple security issues, fix all of them.
  • When all the issues listed in the report are fixed in all pages, select Request Review in the Security Issues report, and describe your fixes in your review request.

A good request does three things:

  • It explains the exact issue on your website
  • It describes the steps you've taken to fix the issue
  • It documents the outcome of your efforts

Most reviews take a few days, but some can take up to a week or two. You'll get the review confirmation message when you submit your request to inform you that the review's in progress. You will also get a message when the review is completed. There is no need to submit another review request before you get the final decision on your outstanding request.

If you do not see any hacked content for the URLs provided in Google Search Console, this could possibly be an example of cloaking. Cloaking makes cleaning a website more difficult because it shows different content to users than it does to search engines. For example, a page on your site may not have visible hacked content to you. This might lead you to believe that there is no hacked content and that Search Console is sending you wrong messages. However, a search engine, like Google, accessing the same page might be served hidden spam text and links.

These days, security is a top priority for everyone - especially when it comes to our online presence. So when Google released the Search Console Security Issues report, it was a big deal. So make sure your website is secure for browsing so it doesn’t hurt your performance.