Mixup at Google Labels Entire Internet as Malware


On January 31, you may have thought the entire internet had fallen prey to what would have ranked as the fastest spreading worm in the history of the web. That's because for about an hour on Saturday morning, all Google search results were flagged with a warning saying "This site may harm your computer," including Google.com. Clicking a marked site would bring up yet another warning.

So what exactly happened? Well, it wasn't a worm, and the internet wasn't under attack (no more than usual, anyway). Instead, Google said it ultimately boiled down to human error.

" 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," Google explained on its blog. "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."

Google initially said it gets its list of malicious URLs from StopBadware.org, which StopBadware.org said isn't true. After several updates, Google's final statement says it "works with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to come up with criteria for maintaining this list," but that fault untimately fell on Google.

Image Credit: FriendlyBit.com

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