If you don’t already have reason enough to pay attention to security risks associated with your online presence, the fact that Google, one of the largest websites in the world, was briefly owned by someone for the sum of $12 should really drive the point home. While ownership was barely transferred for more than a minute, it is proof that just about everyone is fair game on the internet.
Former Google employee Sanmay Ved purchased Google.com for $12 on September 29th of last year. The irony? He bought the domain directly from the Google Domains registration service website. While perusing the web late one night, Ved decided to search his old employer’s domain and, to his surprise, saw that it was available for purchase. He promptly added it to his cart and, to his disbelief, was able to completely check out, becoming – albeit brief – owner of the most-trafficked domain in the world.
Though the whole ordeal ended in good fun, with Google offering Ved $6006.13 (a play on the word “Google”) for the slip, it could have cost them much more. During the brief moments that Ved was owner, he was able to access webmaster controls and even received emails with internal information, which he has since reported to Google’s security team. Immediately realizing the mistake, Google canceled the order – revoking ownership from Ved.
After learning Ved would donate the money to charity, Google doubled their offer and returned to business as usual, but not without reminding us all that even the biggest and best players can make very risky mistakes.