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When malware is everywhere

Melissa Chua | Feb. 4, 2009
Most messages took the tone of amusement; some even glee, because Google the Great had taken a misstep, albeit a small one.

It was like any other mundane Saturday evening. A few friends and I were surfing the World Wide Web for potential weekend getaways, idly chatting and snacking on potato chips.

As our holiday planning session had started off  with us visiting some well-known travel sites directly, the Google glitch went unnoticed till about 11.45pm (GMT+8) Singapore time.

When the glitch did hit us, however, some not-so-pleasant consequences occurred.

A simple search for cruises out of Singapore resulted in a whole list of sites that had been flagged by Google as being potentially dangerous.

We barely noticed when every search result appeared alongside a message saying this site may harm your computer. Truth is, these messages appear often enough and most times, we users ignore the warning and simply pass on to the next search result.

However, the glitch became too obvious to ignore when we found ourselves unable to visit any site via Google. It was annoying, to say the least. So much for the click and get there nature of the Internet that wed all grown accustomed to.

Within minutes, several instant messages and SMSes came through from friends elsewhere, asking if the glitch had affected us too. Googles flagging everything as malware! LOL.. read one message. Most messages took the tone of amusement; some even glee, because Google the Great had taken a misstep, albeit a small one.

Common alternative

When it became clear that our holiday planning session could not continue with Google as our guide, we moved on to Googles common alternative: search engine Yahoo.

It had been months, even years, since some of us had last used Yahoo. Seeing the cheery red Y symbol somehow brought to mind the days, more than 10 years ago, when many of us first experienced the Web, and Yahoo was the prevalent search engine.

"Feels like we're back in secondary school, except there's a whole lot more content online now," remarked one friend.

The Google glitch lasted no longer than half an hour after we first discovered it, but the group of us stuck with Yahoo that night, since the good old Y served us relatively well in our time of need. A spokesman from Yahoo Singapore whom I spoke to also confirmed that the search engine saw a spike in the number of searches during the Google glitch, though specifics were not available. Looks like we werent the only ones.

Modern day Internet users mostly take search engines for granted, but this glitch served as a reminder that it certainly wouldnt benefit anyone to have just one search engine out there.


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