The internet was a malware for 40 minutes

Sun, Feb 1, 2009


Google may harm
If you did a Google search between about 6:30 AM PST until 7:25 AM PST yesterday, you were for sure alerted by this error message against every search result irrespective of what you searched, “This site may harm your computer”.
The error was fired for about an hour and was quickly fixed but it made news as this kind of behaviour is not characteristic of Google.

Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products & User Experience wrote and clarified about the error on the official google blog. She said the error was triggered because of a human error.
An excerpt:

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 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.

They also apologised to users for any inconvinience that might have caused them, along with the webmasters whom sites were wrongly labelled as infectious.

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