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Google Accidently Blacklists Entire Internet

Gordon Kelly


Google Blacklists Entire Internet

Now this isn't your usual everyday occurrence...

Heralded Internet super spawn Google today performed the mother of all service cock-ups - if briefly - when it accidently warned customers about the danger of every single site pulled up using its search engine.

Greeting and baffling users for a 55 minute spell between 6:30am and 7:25am PST (2:30pm - 3.25pm GMT) was the message "This site may harm your computer". You what? Well we now have official word:

"What happened? Very simply, human error," explained the company on its official blog. "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 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.

Not the end of the world people, but it certainly is a wonderful demonstration in this computer dominated, server backed up world of ours that a simple human error can still bring everything crashing down.

Whether this is comforting or terrifying I haven't yet decided...


Official Google Blog Response


February 1, 2009, 2:00 am

Heh, I wondered what was going on I Googled for a site earlier that I visit all the time and it was apparently dangerous. Tried a few more and found the same thing. Thought for a minute there was some kind of supervirus that had infected the whole internet in a matter of minutes and was about to go Terminator 3 skynet style on me and take over my computer. Anyone else? No? Just me? Maybe I watch too many movies...

Oh well crisis averted.


February 1, 2009, 2:32 am

i thought it was a frigging conspiracy when i experienced it :o!

Dark of Day

February 1, 2009, 6:01 am

Certainly messed with my head for a few minutes.

Nice to know Google's human!


February 1, 2009, 11:00 am

Well it's 6am on Sunday 1st, and gmail still seems to consider most emails to be phishing attacks...


February 1, 2009, 5:17 pm

lol - first time i'd used Yahoo! in a long time

Shi An De

February 1, 2009, 5:31 pm

It didn't blacklist their sponsored links...

Tarik Bos

February 1, 2009, 6:10 pm

wondered how wikipedia was gonna harm my pc...


February 1, 2009, 6:31 pm

yeah I found out about it when I tried to get to this site and could tell something was wrong at Googles' end so just used live search till the problem was fixed

@smc8788: it did cross my mind o_O


February 2, 2009, 2:42 am

In GMAIL I just had a regular update from Google Alerts

with a big red Flash at the top saying:

"Warning: This message may not be from whom it claims to be. Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information. "

Poor google having a difficult weekend


February 2, 2009, 4:48 pm

Maybe a Terminator has taken over Google and the human error is just a smoke screen! We're all doomed!!

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