Shot like Ben!

2 September 2008

Some of my searches on Google are resulting in a 403 error return (Forbidden) from Google itself, with this message:

We're sorry…

… but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now.

We'll restore your access as quickly as possible, so try again soon. In the meantime, if you suspect that your computer or network has been infected, you might want to run a virus checker or spyware remover to make sure that your systems are free of viruses and other spurious software.

If you're continually receiving this error, you may be able to resolve the problem by deleting your Google cookie and revisiting Google. For browser-specific instructions, please consult your browser's online support center.

If your entire network is affected, more information is available in the Google Web Search Help Center.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and hope we'll see you again on Google.

This is, of course, a bit annoying. But it is also interesting, as it says that Google is acting to stop the use of their system by malware. However, I don't see how spyware per se would make use of Google.

The searches in which I've engaged which have triggered this have used the Google site operator, and have looked for a PHP-generated page. Further, the 403 error return is more likely to come after I have moved through multiple pages of results.

My inclination is to think that what Google is really trying to block is some sort of zombie searching for vulnerabilities in the sites to which it provides links.


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