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January 31, 2009

Google Flags All Search Results as Malware

Many users report that Google started to flag all search results as malware. The problem is that Google no longer links to the search results flagged as malware and it sends users to a diagnostic page. Apparently, the bug has been fixed in about half an hour.

"This is by far the strangest thing I have ever seen on Google, but I don't know if it is happening to everyone or just me. With every search I do (as of two minutes ago), every page is marked This site may harm your computer," reported Albert Rodenius.

"Google has been acting up in extremely odd ways the last 24 hours. Right now, every single site on the web gets the message This site may harm your computer in its search result. (I never knew the Internet was that dangerous). Second, the number of server errors over the past 24 hours I've run into has been astonishing; over half my Google search queries have returned 404, long before the unsafe sites problem showed up. Now, most of the time when I click on the This site may harm your computer link, I get a server error," mentioned Greg Spira, a reader of this blog.


{ Thanks to everyone who reported the issue. Screenshot from Aris Giannakakis. }

Update: Google's blog says that "this was clearly an error, and we are very sorry for the inconvenience caused to our users. (...) 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. (...) 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."

24 comments:

  1. It was horrible! I was on a photo search job. I couldn't do anything for 30 minutes. I switched to Yahoo!(last time I used Yahoo was in 2001) Searching pictures via Yahoo was terrible. I hope it wont happen again.

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  2. You still could search photos. You just had to delete google's url before the actual website's url. It worked to me.

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  3. email notifications from google calendar have been marked as spam for me with information "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. Learn more"

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  4. Glad it wasn't just me!

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  5. You did not just google google... YOU'LL BREAK THE INTERNET

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  6. Gmail is now affected with false positive mail in the SPAM folder

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  7. Happened to me too, was wondering if the machine got suddenly infected or what, very strange. Good to know it was only a google bug, not some virus attack.

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  8. The problem was not fixed in 1/2 hour. It was at least 1.5 hours that I saw it. One more reason to find another search engine.

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  9. @Anonymous:
    I monitored the comments from this post. The first report was at 6:53 AM PDT, while the first comment that mentioned the issue has been fixed was posted at 7:22 AM PDT.

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  10. Glad it was not a virus, and just a google bug. I'm such a google fan, and was strange to have go to a different search engine! Really glad it was fixed quickly.

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  11. It was even for me as well. When I was actively doing research I faced this issue and lost my interest to proceed due to this error.

    Thanks,
    Raja

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  12. I was searching on your blog, approx. 2 hours ago for that particular post about the Gmail feature that you can receive mail by username+xyz@gmail.com and I saw all this warnings at your Custom Search Engine and I didn't think about a bug, but just that Google labeled you "dangerous"... ;-)) Go on with the good work (waiting for GDrive) Best regards, Hans

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  13. Google has been acting odd for the last week IMO , everything being malware , blocking ip's for no reason , looseing front end connectivity with blogger. Worries me a bit

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  14. Really impressive that Marissa Mayer herself gave such a clear and transparent explanation of what went on, what they did to fix it, and what the impact was. If not for that detailed explanation, I think the public response could have been much worse. A lesson for other large online services.

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  15. Anonymuous wrote:
    "The problem was not fixed in 1/2 hour. It was at least 1.5 hours that I saw it. One more reason to find another search engine."

    Don't be an asshole, it was human error. People make mistakes, get used to it.

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  16. It was a problem for me to, now finally solved.

    Brian
    http://cli.gs/BKContact

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  17. Wake up! We left our house at 9:30 CDT and it was happening. We shut everything down since all of our house computers were affected, came back at noon and it was over. It was almost on the verge of scary. We assumed at the time that someone hacked Google and created this interesting bad PR for them. So my point is we probably experienced the full two hours of the "warning" on everything we searched. We are early risers and in the midwest and it had a lot of impact on our family. I really do not recall anything like that. My question is what really happended? SKG

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  18. They made a post about this on their blog as well. They fixed it really quickly though. Their team found the human error. I was asleep so I didn't notice.

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  19. While we're discussing Google and their attempts to protect us from malware...Has anyone else ever been blocked from a webpage by Google? I mean, not only given that little interstitial window warning you of possible trouble with a page, but actually outrigth refused access to a page because they deeemed it risky? I mean, how dare Google or any entity DENY me access to a webpage (the page was an image host and was not at all a risk) because they think it may be harmful. It is MY decision, Google, not yours. I was so outraged at this incident..but what could I do?

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  20. @Kritsoff:

    I don't understand how Google can deny access to a web page. Do you use some Google software, did you change the DNS addresses to Google Public DNS?

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  21. You did not just google google...??

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