Was doing some PPC research and did a search on the top SERP listings that come up for the search “ppc.”  After clicking to the 2nd page, I clicked back onto the first page and noticed the PPC ads (ironically) were covered by a white rectangular box.  My immediate gut reaction was there’s a process or application running in the background and it has priority over the Chrome browswer.  The other small concern that was brewing inside is that it’s some stupid virus like program gathering the details in the background & stealing stuff off my desktop (always a small concern given how savvy hackers are getting these days).

So, I conduct a few checks (picked up from my 2 years as a Senior Quality Assurance Engineer for a company that’s now a part of Google):

  • I Alt-Tab’d (shortcut to go from application to application) through to other browsers in the background.  I looked for anything that was similar in shape running in the other browsers.  I have AOL Radio running in the Chrome brower that’s active, but the radio app looks to be a different sized rectangular white box.  The stupid MSN Windows Live messenger which is always active in my Windows & Home Premium desktop is definitely not the same shape!
  • I looked through the active applications through the Task Manager.  As you can see from the list, there are a number of applications that could possibly be what’s causing the white box hanging over my google results for the search, but not a single one in the list matches the size of the white rectanglar shaped box floating over the top of my SERP.

  • I looked the processes in the Task Manager as well, but didn’t find anything oddly running.  It’s hard though sometimes to recognize foreign applications in the list since there are so many that are running and you don’t know if they’re a part of the operating system or other applications.
  • I don’t think it’s the Windows widgets that sit on the desktop off to the right invading my Mozilla browser that I do the searches on.  Plus, the rectangular shapes of the window widgets/gadgets are still different in size.

What is it?  Is my PC getting hacked for doing a Google search?  Most likely not, but it’s still a little frustrating. Oh by the way, after scratching my head for the 10th time, the box finally disappeared.  Hmmmm…

Now I wonder can I get a virus by just conducting a search?  Well, I never thought we could get a virus for visiting a website without downloading anything, but it appears we can get attacked by simply clicking on a link.

**Note: From my technological understanding, you can’t (but you developers out there or naysayers correct me if I’m wrong) get a virus even when visiting a site, but when visiting a malware site, it forces you to download something or you click on “yes” which would be a very bad thing.  At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if the hackers found some way to download into your pc withOUT your permission.

ALSO, I’m almost 99% sure, this white rectangular box did not pop up because of my Google search, but again, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was triggered by the search.  I’ll still be googling things with very little worry because most likely, it didn’t.  I post this thought though for all you developers who like to clear up these weird PC mysteries.  Maybe I need to get a Mac?  Ha, ha…

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