Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/25/google_biog_china_glitch/

Google blames glitch not hacker for 'Chinese' bio bug

Manchurian madness

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 25th March 2010 11:40 GMT

Google has blamed a snafu that resulted in an executive biography page for senior execs at the search engine giant rendering in Chinese for some on an unspecified glitch, rather than politically motivated hackers.

The peculiar glitch happened on Tuesday, just a day after Google pulled down the shutters on its Google.cn search operation and began attempting to redirect Chinese surfers to uncensored search results from servers located in Hong Kong, Google.com.hk.

Chinese authorities responded to the move - which Google had been threatening for weeks since it discovered Gmail accounts held by Chinese dissidents as well its intellectual property was targeted in a malware-based hack attack - by restricting access to Google's Hong Kong–based servers.

At around the same time of Tuesday Google corporate biography pages - which displayed a run-down of the careers of biographical information on Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and other senior execs - began rendering in Chinese for some surfers.

The Guardian, which first reported the glitch, explain that the bug was inconsistent across geographies and for different surfers, but repeatable. The glitch meant that the US corporate site partly mirrored its Hong Kong sibling, the paper adds.

The bug prompted some speculation in the Twitterverse that the site might have been targeted by a DNS hack or some form of subtle defacement, possibly in revenge for Google's decision to quit China.

Not so, according to Google, which stepped in on Tuesday to explain the screw-up was caused by a unspecified issue and not criminal hackers, as an update to Google's Twitter account firmly states:

We've fixed a bug on our corporate exec page that displayed the incorrect language to some users. (The site was *not* hacked.)

Screenshots of the borked Google exec pages can be found in a Business Insider story here. ®