Google’s misplaced slash banned the entire Internet
Published on 02/01/09 at 21:18:52 by On
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InternetThose of you who did a Google search between 6:30 a.m. PST and 7:25 a.m. PST this morning were most likely seeing the error message "This site may harm your computer" resulting for every search attempt. This major error must have cost Google 5 millions USD for lost advertising time and also resulted in a  massive Denial Of Service attack on one at least of its services providers.

In order to protect its users against visiting malicious sites, Google is using remote services from StopBadware. StopBadware is a non-profit organization providing remote services listing malicious sites. At first glance, Google engineers suggested that something must have gone wrong with the services provided by StopBadware.  StopBadware reacted on this and explained that despite the fact that Google do use their services, it generates its own lists which it adds manually. StopBadware site itself went offline due to the enormous number of erroneous requests causing a pseudo Denial Of Service pressure on the server where their free services are hosted.

After some hours, Google has corrected the wrong impression it gave and explained that as a result of a human error, someone must have saved the address “/” as a URL for a malicious site, instead of saving the malicious sites file at the current “/” folder. The result of adding the slash to the list resulted by assigning all websites on the Internet as malicious sites.

Within minutes after discovering the issue, the Google team temporally resolved the issue by adding an alert for all searches, that they are working on fixing the issue and “please try again searching within few minutes”.  Google has later announced that they are “carefully investigating this incident and put more robust file checks in place to prevent it from happening again”.

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