Yahoo Search began displaying an unexpected "Warning: Dangerous Downloads" notice for PRWeb-related search queries earlier this week. The warning began serving up midday Monday, but the press release service did all it could on its own before alerting the search engine and McAfee to the problem.
PRWeb emailed McAfee on Tuesday morning and by the end of the day the company known for protecting Web searches against viruses, malware and more claimed to have the problem fixed. No word on exactly what caused the glitch, but McAfee says the problem has been fixed and it's just a matter of time until Yahoo crawls, indexes and updates site files.
Yahoo Search partnered with Web security company McAfee to scan search results for dangerous Web sites years ago. SearchScan by Yahoo Search, powered by McAfee, helps alert consumers to sites with security concerns such as hacking risks, downloads, and unsolicited emails. A Yahoo spokesperson told MediaPost the glitch was not related to the Yahoo-Microsoft search alliance. The error messages did not serve up in Bing search query results. The tool remains in beta.
Jiyan Wei, director of product management at PRWeb, says the majority of URLs serve up in search results with the McAfee warning flag. "The flag links to McAfee's full report, along with a diagnostics report that includes an overall evaluation," he says. "The files indicated no threat, and point to specific files. Domains have executable files McAfee lists."
The site also has a meter for those executable files. They download those files on their servers and test them. One file indicated a "6" on a 10-point scale out of 33 executable files PRWeb hosted. 31 shows a "0" and one indicated a "3." PRWeb tested the files. No viruses were found. The files link to photos, presentations or Web sites that augment press releases sent out as part of the service. Wei removed all executable files, so the Yahoo results would serve up clean.
Although queries may serve up clean in the long run, it's not clear if PRWeb's reputation will come out of this untarnished. Gerry Bavaro, vice president and managing director at Resolution Media, an Omnicom Media Group company, says similar to quantifying the impact of negative listings to core brand queries when managing reputation in search, if this is a Yahoo glitch tied to the deal with McAfee, there could be quantifiable impact to PRWeb in which Yahoo or McAfee should compensate.
McAfee thought a downloadable file on prweb.com was detected as a Trojan, but diagnosing the issue proved otherwise, according to a McAfee spokesperson, who declined to detail the problem.
The warning began disappearing from Yahoo search results late Tuesday afternoon, Pacific time. PRWeb explained the problem in a blog post.