Google search chaos caused by human error

Glitch exposes vulnerabilities of search giant famed for its reliability

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By  Vineetha Menon Published  February 1, 2009

Human error was to blame for a technical glitch that forced nearly every Google search result to be tagged as potentially harmful.

The glitch, which was quickly rectified, has nonetheless exposed the search giant’s vulnerability.

While undergoing routine updation to its list of risky websites yesterday, ‘/’ was mistakenly added as a value to the file which expanded to all URLs. This simple oversight caused Google to flag the message: “This site may harm your computer” with search results for a 40- minute time period.

Google initially stated that it gets a list of harmful URLs from non-profit organization StopBadware.com . The NGO rebuffed this claim, going on record to state that: “Google generates its own list of badware URLs, and no data that we generate is supposed to affect the warnings in Google’s search listings.” Google has since taken full responsibility for the error.

“We will carefully investigate this incident and put more robust file checks in place to prevent it from happening again,” stated Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products & User Experience, Google.

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