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Google Mistake Identifies Most Websites as Malicious

Posted: 02nd Feb, 2009 By: MarkJ
Surfers trying to use Google's search engine on Saturday were, for a period of roughly one hour, told that any website they clicked on had been identified as malicious. Thankfully the Internet has not been infected with a super-virus and the problem was instead caused by simple human error:

Google Blog Statement:

What happened? Very simply, human error. Google flags search results with the message "This site may harm your computer" if the site is known to install malicious software in the background or otherwise surreptitiously. We do this to protect our users against visiting sites that could harm their computers. We maintain a list of such sites through both manual and automated methods. We work with a non-profit called http://www.StopBadware.org to come up with criteria for maintaining this list, and to provide simple processes for webmasters to remove their site from the list.

We periodically update that list and released one such update to the site this morning. Unfortunately (and here's the human error), the URL of '/' was mistakenly checked in as a value to the file and '/' expands to all URLs. Fortunately, our on-call site reliability team found the problem quickly and reverted the file. Since we push these updates in a staggered and rolling fashion, the errors began appearing between 6:27 a.m. and 6:40 a.m. and began disappearing between 7:10 and 7:25 a.m., so the duration of the problem for any particular user was approximately 40 minutes.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com

Google has since apologised for the issue that affected millions of people around the world. No doubt anybody trying to visit government websites at the same time would have had a chuckle or too.
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