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Readable SafeBrowsing Add-on for Firefox 4+

   28 Apr 11   Filed in General, Tips and Tricks

I actively work with Google’s Safe Browsing diagnostic pages. They are a great source of information if you know how to interpret them. I usually read several dozen such diagnostic pages a day. Unfortunately, the readability of the diagnostic pages is quite poor.

To make my life easier, I created a simple script that highlighted important information so that I could see everything I needed at a glance. I had been using that script for more than a year before the recent Firefox 4 upgrade broke it (the technology I used is deprecated now). This was a serious loss for me. Every time I opened Safe Browsing diagnostic pages (several dozen times a day) I missed my script. Even though I knew the page layout very well, it took significantly more efforts to extract the same amount of information. The difference was almost the same as you might feel when you have to use a touchpad instead of a normal mouse.

Readable SafeBrowsing add-on

Finally I’ve reworked my script as a fully compatible Firefox 4 add-on. What a relief! And now that I know how such a simple thing can improve your productivity and what it means to get back to original Google’s formatting, I think it may be worth it to share this add-on with you. I actually think Google should revamp the diagnostic pages itself. But since they don’t change the look and feel of these pages for a few years, I guess I’d better off publishing my add-on so that anyone can benefit from it.

If you use Firefox 4+ (which I consider the best choice when used along with NoScript), you can install my Readable SafeBrowsing add-on here (no additional installs required, no restart required):

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/readable-safebrowsing/

(You may see a warning when you click the “Download Now” button as the add-on hasn’t been reviewed by Mozilla yet.)

Features

  • Different colors for suspicious and not suspicious reports. — The wording is almost the same for flagged sites and clean sites. The only difference is the “not” word in the middle of a sentence so you can’t tell the status of the report at a glance.
  • Highlights the base URL covered by the report. — It may differ from the requested URL. For example, if you request a diagnostic page for a subdomain.example.org the report may actually show data for the whole example.org, which means that the problem can’t be resolved at the subdomain level.
  • Highlights date of the last scan and the date when the problem was last found. — This is important to understand how up-to-date the report is, whether the original problem is still detectable, whether Google rescanned the site after a request submitted via Webmaster Tools.
  • Highlights when the report was last updated. — Important if you are not sure whether Google has picked up your latest changes.

Currently it works with Safe Browsing diagnostic pages in English, German, Spanish, French and Russian.

Before/After screenshots

Before: not suspicious

Before: not suspicious

After: not suspicious

After: not suspicious

Before: suspicious

Before: suspicious

After: suspicious

After: suspicious

Testing

Once you install it, you can open any Safe Browsing diagnostic page and enjoy the improved look&feel. For example, here’s the diagnostic page for this blog:
http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=blog.unmaskparasites.com

Or you can construct a URL of a Safe Browsing diagnostic page for any site yourself:

http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=<example.com/path>
replace (the <example.com/path> part with the address of the desired site/page)

Don’t forget that you can also find links to Safe Browsing diagnostic pages in Unmask Parasites reports (both for the pages that you check and the pages they link to).

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Let me know what you think about it. Is there something that can be changed or improved? Your feedback is welcome.

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Reader's Comments (%)

  1. |

    Funny thing you brought this up. Just yesterday I started writing this long rant for the Google Webmaster Forum about how the Google Diagnostics page is so poorly presented.

    I even opened up Dreamweaver and started creating a mock up of what a better Diagnostics page should look like.

    Can’t tell you how many people call me daily frustrated at their site being hacked– and even though they are staring right at the Diagnostics page they just don’t get it…

    So then I have to go through a long explanation on how the Google review and reconsideration process works, the difference between the two, etc.

    Really a shame. Anyway, after writing a long rant and spending some time designing a mock up I just gave up– saying to myself, why am I spending so much time on this; it’s not like Google is going to pay any attention to me.

    Anyway, quality plugin Denis!

    Best Wishes,
    Jim Walker
    The Hack Repair Guy