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back to article Google mistakes entire web for malware

A human error at Google caused its main search engine to briefly identify every site on the web as a potentially malicious destination that represented a threat to end users, the company said. Starting early Saturday morning California time, the world's largest search engine flagged each search result with the warning: "This …

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Booo

Oh come on, I sent the newsdesk this like 30 mins ago, no props for me ? :p

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Go

StopBadware

Is down. As of 15:38 GMT. Google uses this for malware checking...so as it's down, all pages defaulted to infected status, I presume.

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Go

I for one...

... welcome the fact that our Googloid overlords are finally taking a zero-tolerance approach to website safety!

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Yep

Aha, I was not the only one who sent an email in ;-)

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Statistics.

While i admit it's not my most attractive trait...

I'd love to know how the internet was affected in those few minutes. Was there a sudden drop in site visits? did Amazon, mybook, facespace, BoBe and the like go silent?

It would probably be quite a significant drop in visits as even i, tech savvy as i am, google more often than i type the TLDs.

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not wrong - just ahead of their time

The power of "may".

Not "will" or "does" or "won't" or "cannot" - there's no such thing as certainty, especially where lawyers are concerned (as they wouldn't make any money then). So everything contains an element of doubt: "might", "may", "could".

So the statement that Google puts out; "This site may harm your computer" cannot be denied. Yes it's unhelpful, tells nothing about the degree of risk and merely increased the levels of doubt and paranoia, but wrong? No.

Personally, I'd like to see this sort of disclaimer on everything. Something along the lines of: "this product is not guaranteed safe under every circumstance", or maybe better: "you might die after handling this item". if it reduces the worth of all the (already worthless) warnings, caveats and disclaimers we see every day, then people might, just have to start thinking for themselves and apply what little common-sense they have to assessing the degree of risk, and whether it justifies the potential gain.

Caveat emptor!

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jon
Paris Hilton

My my

My what a big ego you have Ollie! I sent this in an hour ago. No tip for me! I think such an epic fail as this will have been sent to Registeroids many times :)

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Same in Italy

Since yesterday all sites are blocked... although it seems fixed right now

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Muppetware more like

Pleased it wasn't just me that was !Googling for some additional info about this an hour ago.

"Ohnoes! The intarwebs are broked!"

Praise be to ElReg RSS feeds...

Rik.

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Google could be technically wrong

Since every site that you download means work for your computer it increases wear and tear to visit websites. Arugably this is harmful to your computer.

So more accurately would be this website WILL harm your computer.

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How fortunate

Really, a simple switch of the engine in the search bar makes the whole web space safe again regardless of "The Goog's" fail.

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Paris Hilton

Google likes Monty Python

During this time I entered "Monty Python" as a search and a large majority of MP sites were not shown as being harmful.

Draw your own conclusions.

Paris, mostly harmful.

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Single source.

That's what happens when you single source. When it breaks, everyone's DOA.

Now ask me why I use Metacrawler and avoid direct use of Google.

While I'm at it, does "cloud computing" still look like a good idea?

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Gone for a /

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/this-site-may-harm-your-computer-on.html

You would've thought they check for something like this. Good to know that my cheesecode is world-class too!

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Alert

Interestingly enough...

It didn't affect IE. Well not for me and anyone else I've seen who posted on various forums. I have Opera, Firefox and Safari and it affected all of them but at the very same time not IE. Strange...

It's long since fixed now though. Perhaps someone forgot to do some testing at Google?

Unlike them.

I thought it was a prelude to the end of the world, perhaps a giant hack from China...but then I do have a propensity for melodrama.

Warning: This site may harm your computer.

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malware = google

A search for 'google' also revealed that the Google sites (google.ca etc.) were under suspicion...

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Alert

Speaking of which

...did anyone else get one of those warnings along the lines that the Googeloïd Search Engine *might* have consented to give you one more result for your query (which was concerning a problem with a SATA drive, in case you were wondering) but *as* that page was listed in a the IWF blocking list, Googeloïd sadly *cannot* show the corresponding link in its search results (even though I am not even using Google from the UK). It then proceeds to give you a link to a vanilla protest page at chillingeffects.org.

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Paris Hilton

Is this why

worldwide traffic to the BBC news site is 93% below normal? - as of time of posting

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IT Angle

A simple / in the black list

Google has come back with a response to this: http://blog.lbi-netrank.co.uk/google-malware-filter-broken/ It rather looks as though someone might have made a bit of a whoopsie!

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Coat

It wasn't what it appears to be...

If anyone clicked on the "Safe Browsing" diagnostic page, they would have seen a 502 server error, suggesting that every site is classified as unsafe by default and the diagnostic tool overrides that.

So it's not that everything was flagged as potentially dangerous, it was that everything was not marked as 'known to be safe'.

I did a search for "Microsoft" and take a screenshot, seemed most appropriate to me... *gets coat*

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Anonymous Coward

Even G makes mistakes

I got growled at for saying "That's bollocks!" in earshot of a small child when searching for Wordpress themes earlier and getting everything listed as malware. Even G makes mistakes. The Big G is, of course, Jesus Christ himself, Ian Gillan. Until Google sings Child In Time like Ian Gillan then it will remain just G.

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An erroneous wildcard : Google explains all

Well, such is the devastating power of the wildcard...

Google has provided an official explanation...

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/this-site-may-harm-your-computer-on.html

It seems that their update file of malware-suspected sites contained a wildcard typo, a "/" that effectively meant "everything"! Human error, easily overlooked, I guess....

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Joke

Spotted here too.

It was actually fixed while I was in the middle of typing my "Hey guys, your malware checker is borked" email to Google HQ.

I mean, I know that the Googloids are hellbent on taking over the entire world for their own nefarious purposes, but I didn't know that they had already developed mind-reading to that degree. It was a bit spooky from where I was sitting I can tell you!

Funnily enough, the following message was going to be the one to El Reg saying that Google was knackered. Oh well, late to the party as usual I suppose...

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I didn't notice

But I use Yahoo for googling.

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Alert

Queen Kong!

Where are you?

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Gooooooogling

I googled Google and discovered it was unsafe too. Wish I'd taken a screenshot

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Not the whole web

Google didn't mistake the whole web for malware - its adverts ^w sponsored links at the top of the search results were OK apparently. I didn't get a screenshot though.

Click a sponsored link - that's OK, anything else is bad - a way to boost revenue or keep the advertisers happy?

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saw this when it happened

a copy and paste allowed me to keep working but I bet it would freak out non-techies...

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@Pete

'...or maybe better: "you might die after handling this item"...'

Technically, you could put 'you will die after handling this item'. If you handle it, you've survived long enough to handle it - and make no mistake, you WILL die at some point thereafter. So you'll definitely die after handling any item you handle.

/pedant

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jai
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and this is why

you can't ever let one organisation become the be all and end all of their field

always need a backup search provider for when they screw up

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Gates Horns

And a right embuggerance too...

I was googling about a WSUS problem. It could be said that Goodle was being quite accurate, though it was something of a nuisance!

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Go

@Google could be technically wrong

<quote>Since every site that you download means work for your computer it increases wear and tear to visit websites. Arguably this is harmful to your computer.</quote>

This has to be one for the excuse calender!

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Coat

screenshot and IE

It wasn't working in IE, i did take a screenshot of google saying that google wasn't safe for your computer. It will cause my joy for time to come. I also sent the an email to El Reg, this was about 10-15 minutes after it had started (i had to find the email address and take the screenshots)

I did notice that there was sometimes a server error, and once it said i was unauthorized to access that page. The really odd part was that under certain search conditions the sites showed up as fine, i believe it was with quotes but am not sure.

The most annoying part was not that it was indicating that all sites were harmful, it was that to get to the sites from google you would have to copy and paste. that and didn't have link for cached pages (why would they cache a potentially harmful website.)

Grabbing my coat, its the one in the back as I was here first, nothing more to see.

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Stop

@David Wiernicki

"make no mistake, you WILL die at some point thereafter"

Not necessarily: I intend to live forever, or die trying.

@Mark Dowling

Copy and paste? Why? I went to the error page and simply removed the google part of the URL - no copying or pasting, just a simple select + delete

(and change the urlencoded parameters back, but then I can't imagine many people knowing how to decode the %xx codes).

My first thought when I realised what was going on was to email the reg, but I googled the contact details and couldn't get through :)

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Happy

Did someone say Exec alert!

I for one am glad this has happened, the panic and chaos us on-call admins received during this 'outage' was funny to say the least, it's almost as if most peoples IT systems 'extend' off Google! How many times can you say 'its Google's problem, wait 30 minutes and try again.'

Well done Google for fixing it and blaming it on a very realistic issue.

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IE was fine

I was about to reinstall Firefox but, saw it was working in IE then FireFox started working,

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Happy

Idiots !!!

Love it ! Google, one of the biggest internet companies in the world.

,,,,and they don't test their changes off line on a parrallel system? (Perhaps they don't have the budget to do this)

Surely there is something seriously wrong here wrt change control, management, redundancy, techical ability etc.

,,,or are they so big and so complacent they test live by using us lot as the guinea pigs and just roll out the changes.

A couple of useful lessons here are that even the largest company makes mistakes and can be complacent or over confident. Roll on SAAS and the cloud - we're all doomed I tel you ! (Well not really, but all we're doing is placing our eggs in someone elses basket)

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@Not the whole web

<Q>Google didn't mistake the whole web for malware - its adverts ^w sponsored links at the top of the search results were OK apparently. I didn't get a screenshot though.</Q>

So, if google had marked "all links unsafe" in this temporary (comedic) bug/feature. Then why were the adverts not also included?

Does this imply that the malware checks are not done on the adverts? If you pay Google enough, does this mean it will turn a blind eye to your Malware product? From previous El'Reg articles about "Free" Adobe Acrobat... I guess this is the case.

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Heart

Donkeyporn.net

Its still blocked!

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Paris Hilton

Entire web found to be harmful..

..no-one surprised, pictures at 11.

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Happy

So happy...

that this happened on a weekend! I can't imagine explaining to our users that no, this isn't our fault and that no, I nor anyone else at tech support, can fix it. Particularly since the warning page bears a striking resemblance to some of the internal blocks' messages, and could easily be mistaken for one at a quick glance. OK, I can imagine it. It's not very nice.

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Dear Chief Programmer,

This oversight may harm your career.

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Boffin

Mostly harmless...

Did anyone search for planet Earth during the downtime?

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Paris Hilton

So that's where it got to!

I had a bug on one of my sites that involved an absent solidus, cheeky bugger was moonlighting at google!

Paris, cos' she knows how to handle naughty solidi.

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Unhappy

Viruses

Guess who just happened to be looking up bacteria and viruses at the time. I thought it was adequate warning if a little OTT.

Fufufufiddlesticks.

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ho ho ho

I bet Yahoo and AltaVista thought they had all their christmas presents early......and then had them snatched away again an hour later.

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Anonymous Coward

Billion Dollar Corporation or: How I learnt to stop worrying and love Google

Was the human in question (in this Google 'human error') a certain General Midwinter? Or perhaps Major TJ Kong?

Come on Reg™, where are the two new icons to add to messages featuring a G with horns or a halo?

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Coat

God...

@Thomas Baker: It affected all browsers. It affected IE7 for me. Besides, it was a server side thing, so I doubt the browser would make much difference. And for everyone here whining about not getting 'credit', stop being such a pathetic attention whore. I noticed the issue, like a lot of the world, but I just ignored it and got on with my day and waiting for Google to sort it out. I didn't send it into a load of IT sites then came back looking to see if someone had mentioned my name. Do you REALLY think you're the only ones who noticed this issue and the only ones who sent in a tip. Get over yourselves.

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At first I thought...

..that the Vietnamese bloke who owns my local pub had exceeded his usual obsessive secrecy mode.

(i.e., when accessing some pages on, for example the Telegraph.co.uk, I get "Page blocked by your System Administrator")

I was using Firefox, and switched to IE, and it worked. Like the poster above, I thought FF was borked. Took me awhile to realise the search engine on IE was Yahoo.

So I guess the poor sod at Google is about as bright as I am (Hint: think Toc H lamp. Google for it, if it'll let you.)

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Coat

Absolutely staggering.

The occurrence of phrases such as "internet down", "traffic down 93%" - the stock reaction seems to have been "google went down and we couldn't access the internet".

Google != the internet. They're a search engine - and that's all. It's testimony to the prominence of Google in people's thinking, that to lose Google is to lose the net.

Personally I use ask, not google - I don't like google - they can't be trusted. To have untrustworthy people appoint themselves as gatekeepers to human knowledge is foolish. That we stand around mutely while it happens, aware of their inherent untrustworthiness, says a lot about the people we have become.

To the people who thought that because Google went down they couldn't access the internet, please return your computers to the shop you bought them from and tell them you're too stupid to own one.

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