When Google flagged the entire World Wide Web as malicious for about an hour stretch on Saturday morning EST, I was fast asleep, nursing away the effects of the previous night’s revelry.
But to the millions of users worldwide who were awake and who solely rely on Google to tell them exactly which sites they should be visiting on that crazy thing we call the internet, it must have come as a real scare.
I’m surprised all the screams of horror didn’t wake me up. (Perhaps they weren’t screaming at all and instead visited Dogpile.com and just pretended like it was 1999.)
Google later chalked the incident up to human error, something about mistakenly checking the URL of “/” as a value to the file, a seemingly simple oversight that caused each and every search result to include the message: “This site may harm your computer. “
Typically, that message is one of the very nice security features that Google offers its users, allowing them to avoid known dangerous sites that populate the search giant’s URL blacklist.
But on this morning, even the most benign of sites was labeled as pure evil.
Now, we’ll forgive Google. The company has revolutionized the act of scouring the internet and, for that, it deserves a free pass. The problem took about an hour to fix and probably would have been resolved much sooner had it not occurred during the wee hours of the Mountain View, Calif. weekend.
But the tale is cautionary, especially as we learn more about the rumored (and greatly anticipated) GDrive, a controversial online storage system that Google may unveil this year. The premise is that all users would need to access their files is the internet because Google would be storing all the data “in the cloud” for them. Can you say, good night hard drive?
Saturday morning’s incident makes me worry about relying too heavily on any one provider for all my computing needs. It also underscores the need to have a Dogpile-like backup plan in place.
After all, if Google can label the entire internet as bad, who says it can’t lose my data for an hour or two, or longer?
If it does, hopefully I’ll be sleeping. But when I wake up, I’ll be reasurred to know that I also had saved my data (or at least most of it) somewhere else.