Feeds

Google tools gaffe let ZOMBIE web admins feast on websites

Dead accounts resurrected to cause merry hell

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Google potentially allowed former web admins to drive corporate websites off a cliff by resurrecting deleted accounts for its webmaster tools service.

Google Webmaster Tools accounts can be used by anyone to manage their websites, from checking the indexing of pages to fine-tuning their visibility in the dominant search engine. Google's glitch, which revived old or disabled accounts and granted them permission to make alterations, was first noted by search-engine optimisation blogger Dave Naylor.

Although the tools are free to use, they have become quite powerful over the years, and can help make or break a site in terms of visitor numbers. Unauthorised access to the service could be used for all sorts of mischief, Naylor warned:

Webmaster Tools is so much more powerful than it ever was there is a serious risk that damage could be caused to sites by people who no longer have permission to make changes. Things like disavow link lists, de-index urls or the entire site, redirect urls, geolocation alterations… a whole world of pain.

The blunder also opened up access to Google Analytics, allowing ex-employees or contractors to spy on their former employers, Search Engine Journal added.

Fortunately Google resolved the screw-up, according to a statement issued to Searchengineland.com on Wednesday:

For several hours yesterday a small set of Webmaster Tools accounts were incorrectly re-verified for people who previously had access. We’ve reverted these accounts and are investigating ways to prevent this issue from recurring.

The cause of the breach remains unclear. We've put in a query to Google and will update this story if we hear more. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Arts and crafts store Michaels says 3 million credit cards exposed in breach
Meanwhile, Target investigators prepare for long process in nabbing hackers
Canadian taxman says hundreds pierced by Heartbleed SSL skewer
900 social insurance numbers nicked, says revenue watchman
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.