To quote the noted philosopher Hannah Montana, “everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.” Truer words have never been spoken, or sung. Even massively successful multinational data corporations like Google occasionally screw up, and a recently discovered Google goof could have been fatal to YouTube if it hadn’t been caught just in the knick of time. A recently uncovered bug would have allowed any user to delete ANY VIDEO on the site simply by directing a request to the right URL.
According to Quartz, the flaw was uncovered by a software engineer named Kamil Hismatullin. Hismatullin was working with Google as part of the company’s Vulnerability Research Grant, which pays engineers to uncovery exploitable bugs in Google’s labyrinthine code structure and report them to the company. In the past, large companies have offered six figure rewards to coders who discover problem bugs, giving hackers an excuse to report, rather than exploit, the vulnerabilities they discover. Google’s grant program is a little less lucrative, Hismatullin’s reward will probably be closer to four figures, not a huge payout for someone who rescued Charlie Bit My Finger and Keyboard Cat.
This particular hole would have allowed anyone with knowledge of it to delete any video off the site, from your latest vlog to internet classics like Chocolate Rain. The bug was detected on March 28th and patched three days later by a team of Google engineers. However it’s very existence underscores the need for constant vigilance. YouTube hosts massive amounts of original content, much of it with tremendous financial, cultural, or even historic value. In many ways YouTube is like a living museum, a flaw that could destroy the internet version of the Mona Lisa is not something to take lightly.
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