Malware downloaded by PC users who conduct Google searches has recently been sending unusual search traffic to the website, prompting Google technicians to take action.
The Wall Street Journal reports that more than 1 million PCs with Windows have been infected with malware, likely stemming from an online scam email that prompted users to download fake anti-virus software.
Once installed, this malware causes computers to send traffic to Google, compromising its search index, according to InformationWeek. This strain "hijacks" Google search results and redirects traffic to fraudulent websites for payment.
According to Google security engineer Damian Menscher, infected PCs will see a notification stating that the user's computer is infected, with a link to help diagnose and fix the issue. This involves running a system scan and updating anti-virus software to remove infections.
Search Engine Land adds that Windows computers have always been susceptible to malware in the past, and software such as Windows Defender can help prevent future outbreaks. The virus is designed by fraudsters who use it to track a users' online behavior and obtain personal information such as credit card numbers and passwords.