Google Webmaster Tools reverifies old accounts, panics SEO community

28 Nov 2012

SEO experts were in a tizzy last night having discovered that access to Google Webmaster Tools had been reinstated to a number of accounts, granting ex-employees and former agencies access to sensitive information.

Google Webmaster Tools is a free service used by SEO employees and others to check the indexing status and optimise visibility of a website. With access to these tools, users could redirect URLs, delete pages from the index, remove or edit sitemaps, disavow links, change the geographic target of a site, or even revoke others users’ access to these tools.

The security glitch was first reported on Twitter by Patrick Altoft, director of search at Branded3. Others verified his claim of previously revoked access to websites having been reverified, and The Next Web confirmed with eBay’s former director of SEO that his access to the e-commerce giant’s Webmaster Tools had been reinstated, despite having left the company more than a year ago.

SEO expert David Naylor and others have also reported access to Google Analytics – which contains even more sensitive information sites would not want falling into the wrong hands.

State of Search also reports that some blocked Google Talk connections have been unblocked.

Google is apparently looking into the issue, while Altoft is now saying he believes the issue has been fixed as far as he can see. However, others continue to report the issue.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic