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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 28 November, 2014

Google’s Irish site hit by inaccessibility issues

The domain name records for Google.ie were edited for some time earlier, which rendered all its services offline for some time.

Google's Irish homepage, www.google.ie, was unavailable for some earlier today when sensitive records attached to the domain were amended.
Google's Irish homepage, www.google.ie, was unavailable for some earlier today when sensitive records attached to the domain were amended.
Image: Google

GOOGLE’S IRISH HOMEPAGE and associated services were sent offline for a period earlier today when sensitive domain records were changed to point the site’s traffic to another host.

Registry records for the google.ie domain show that all traffic to that domain is ordinarily processed and redirected by so-called ‘name servers’ run by Google itself – in this case, ns1.google.com.

For a period earlier today, however, those records were changed so that traffic was sent to be redistributed by an Indonesian-registered site, farahatz.net. That site has now been taken offline, but it is not known whether the site could have been created with malicious intent.

The records were changed again by mid-afternoon, but delays in those changes being updated may mean that some visitors could still have difficulty accessing Google.ie for several hours.

The move also means that some other services reliant on the google.ie domain name, such as the Irish-specialised version of Google Maps (maps.google.ie).

The names of the administrators attached to the google.ie domain did not change during the incident – suggesting that the records may have been changed as a result of so-called ‘social engineering’, where an unauthorised person adopts fake credentials and encourages others to make the appropriate changes.

eMarkmonitor, the company which is listed as having registered google.ie on Google’s behalf, is also responsible for the registration of the Irish domain names for the likes of eBay, Microsoft, Yahoo and PayPal. None of those sites appeared to have been affected.

The changes were made in the records held by the IE Domain Registry. There is no indication that Google itself was vulnerable to any security breach.

A Google spokeswoman said the search giant was “aware that some users are having difficulties accessing www.google.ie and we are working to fix the problem.

“We apologise to those users experiencing problems and appreciate their patience,” she added.

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