Saturday, February 16, 2008

iGoogle Trickery

I got a call early this morning from my Dad who was upset that he could not get to his iGoogle homepage. He then mentioned something with Windows Defender, which freaked me out a little. I figured he had already found a way to get spyware on his computer. He told me that whenever he accessed his home page, he would get a page redirect to this website (be careful it may have tracking cookies, etc).

I logged onto his desktop and tried the homepage and got the same redirect. I first ran a spyware scan which netted nothing, I cleared out his browser history which didn't stop his home page from redirecting so I flipped back to my desktop and logged into his iGoogle page from my own PC. I then had the same problem.

I figured that there was some hijack in one of his gadgets, so I checked the Google groups and sure enough there was a post about the This Day in History gadget spitting out a redirect. Here is the posting in the groups, great job guys! The trick to removing this gadget though seemed like something out of the AOL 90's when annoying child hacker wannabees would send a script to freeze a chatroom or fill an email box.

Here's the fix: I had to log into Dad's iGoogle page and at the specific right time, stop the browser from loading before the redirect. I then had to quickly kill the gadget from the iGoogle page and close out of the browser altogether. Once I reloaded the browser, the problem was solved.

I wanted to post this so that other people that have this issue can see that there is a quick fix and their iGoogle pages can be restored. I don't see this reported as a big enough problem within Google yet, and I'm sure the other 50,000 plus people using this gadget are going to notice this problem soon enough.

The lesson, be careful about these third party iGoogle gadgets. Check the comments closely before adding and verify the source before loading them onto your home page. Happy Googling!