Google Blocking Exploit Searches?

By Nathan Weinberg

The Email Battles website is claiming that Google and MSN have been blocking searches designed to root out vulnerable PHPBB servers. The website says that, occasionally, query strings commonly used by “script kiddies” are blocked, to prevent them from finding servers that are open to attack.

I can’t confirm this through my own searches, so I was hoping someone could help me out by pointing out a working example. If you are worried about publishing the exploit query string, leave a comment with at least two links and it’ll stay in moderation, with instructions for me to delete the string.

So, what are the implications of this? Well, if Google is blocking these searches, it is doing so as a public service, basically declaring that searches that serve no purpose except to do harm are off limits. I like the intention, but I’m not so sure I like the action or the precedent.

What if, in the future, Google decides to block all commonly used searches that can be used to harm others. For example, what if Google decides to block “i am 9..12 years old”, a query that can be used by pedophiles to find children of a certain age range? What if Google decided to block searches for gun trade shows, or steroids, or porn?

I realize the PHPBB search serves zero purpose beyond harm, since it is a code string found in unsecure servers, but it could represent a path many do not want Google to traverse. Even as Google fights the Department of Justice for our privacy rights, it is important to remember that we have the right to search for the wrong things.
(via Techdirt)

Posted:
January 19, 2006 by Nathan Weinberg in:

3 Responses to “Google Blocking Exploit Searches?”

  1. michaelzimmer.org » Blog Archive » Google Blocking Certain Searches Says:

    […] From InsideGoogle: The Email Battles website is claiming that Google and MSN have been blocking searches designed to root out vulnerable PHPBB servers. The website says that, occasionally, query strings commonly used by “script kiddies” are blocked, to prevent them from finding servers that are open to attack. […]

  2. Hashim Says:

    Google blocks out porn if you ask them to, and spam (0 PageRank sites) even if you don’t want them to.

    This seems no different.

  3. Cryptblade Says:

    I do not think that this is a problem. Even though I am not a huge fan of Google, I understand that their search results are their own proprietary property.

    If they arbitrarily decide somethings can’t be touched, then somethings can’t be touched. I don’t hold a museum in bitterness if they showcase something and tell me look but dont touch. I dont hold it against them if they tell me part of the museum is closed to visitors. Could I raise a stink - especially if I paid? Sure - but in the end, it’s still museum property.

    I say Google has a right to block certain searches. And I wish they would block more, like porn, child porn, gun trade shows, etc. I think it’s their right and and their obligation to sensor to some degree.

    I also applaud Google for fighting the Feds about search records. I see the Feds fighting for that as a terrible move. What happened to Karl Rove? I thought he was in charge of spinning the Republicans good and the Democrats bad?

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