Was Google Hacked?


Reviewing some SEO work for one of our companies this morning I was surprised to see that last night (according to Google) we grew from about 20,000 pages of content cached to over 3,780,000,000.  What was more alarming was Google now showed under the search result a little note that said “this sight may harm your computer”.  The site was listed as a spam site!  I started to fire off a string of emails to get the technical team working on the problem, tried calling the CEO and then I noticed something even more alarming.

Every single site on the Internet – no matter how big and well established showed the same warning.  Even this blog was showing billions of pages of content and was listed as a malware site.  And every single site had 3,780,000,000 pages of content and no page rank.  Did someone hack Google?

Wow.  Imagine the problems if there was no longer a way to prioritize or search for information.  Imagine the productivity loss and disruption to our communication process.  Every single search would result in a warning screen if you clicked on the results, basically eliminating the ability to use Google to search.

Here are a few screen shots:


And the next page if you clicked on any of the search results:


Around 11am (9:02 Pacific) Google issues a press release stating that human error was the problem, someone had checked the wrong box.

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.

What?  You can basically disrupt the entire Google search ability if you check the wrong box?  The release goes on to spell out what happened but it is not clear why each site showed up with the same number of cached pages (3,780,000,000)?  And if this was a simple human error as explained, why would it take almost an hour to fix the problem?  If you can quickly revert the file, why would it not have been about two minutes?


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