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February 14, 2005

Attack of the GoogleBots

From Reuters via Yahoo! News:

Hackers have found a handy tool to take control of bank accounts, tap into corporate computer networks and dig up sensitive government documents.

It's called Google....

At a recent hackers' conference in Washington, Long demonstrated the eye-opening results of dozens of well-crafted Google searches.

Using Google, identity thieves can easily find credit-card and bank-account numbers, tax returns, and other personal information buried in court documents, expense reports and school Web sites that contain such information.

Google hackers can download Department of Homeland Security threat assessments marked "For Official Use Only."

They can gain control of office printers, Internet phones and other devices controlled through a Web interface -- including electrical power systems.

"One Google query, a couple of buttons, you can actually turn off power to their house," Long said.

Google has been a pain in my nether regions for some time now. Web site owners, like myself, have found that due to sloppy coding of Google's “bots” (computer programs that surf the web and index pages and sites) quite an enormous amount of bandwidth can be used up by these annoying little critters. One day last week a GoogleBot accesses a single page on one of my sites, 692 times, using up an enormous amount of bandwidth in the process. I've since rewritten many scripts to respond with a blank page when accessed by a search engine bot, since Google and several other tend to ignore the usual method of fending them off, the robots.txt file.

The internet is a powerful thing and the potential for mayhem by untested scripts and programs is enormous. Google seems to be leading the pack in wreaking havoc by sending out untested bots.

Posted by Jack Lewis at February 14, 2005 08:35 AM

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