About Tuesday, a bug was discovered affecting Google accounts, granting revoked users access to the Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics they originally had access to.
In his November 27 post, SEO blogger David Naylor wrote: “It has been seen tonight that WebmasterTools has suffered a major security hole and opened up and reverified all old accounts. What does this mean to the SEO community? From initial glance at our WMT’s accounts we now have regained access to every old account we have previously been given access to, whether that is a previous client or maybe a site that came to us for some short term consultancy. What is also quite amusing (if you look on the funny side) is that you can see who won the client or who you won the client from. On a more serious note though, now that WMT is so much more powerful than it ever was there is a serious risk that damage could be caused to sites by people who no longer have permission to make changes. Things like disavow link lists, deindex urls or the entire site, redirect urls, geolocation alterations .. a whole world of pain. Oh… and this also is the same for Google Analytics too.. it’s going to potentially be a late night! Hopefully the messages that we have sent to Matt Cutts will be seen and actioned quickly.”
The security mishap could be problematic for affected organizations as it gave account access to people who are not supposed to have it, such as former employees. Fortunately, Google acted quickly. While Google did not say what specifically caused the snafu, they said the problem has already been fixed. In their official statement, they said, “ “For several hours yesterday a small set of Webmaster Tools accounts were incorrectly re-verified for people who previously had access. We’ve reverted these accounts and are investigating ways to prevent this issue from recurring.”