The Day a Single Byte made Google look stupid.

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Earlier today every google user was amazed to see that their reliable ol’ Google warned users not to open any site from their search results including google.com
You may check my earlier post on this topic here.

Now it turned out that a single ‘/’ character caused this worldwide confusion. Here is the explanation from google’s official blog:

What happened? Very simply, human error. 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 work with a non-profit called StopBadware.org to get our list of URLs. StopBadware carefully researches each consumer complaint to decide fairly whether that URL belongs on the list. Since each case needs to be individually researched, this list is maintained by humans, not algorithms.

We periodically receive updates to that list and received one such update to release on 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.

Now, I hope it wont happen again soon. Best of Luck Google!!! 😛

1 COMMENT

  1. However, this service is only compatible with these news
    sites: ESPN, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Economist, The New York Times and BBC.
    By referencing your articles in your blog, you are giving them more publicity
    mileage. seo

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