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Ask.com Accidentally Leaks Private Search Query Data

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Ask.com Accidentally Leaks Private Search Query Data

For a short period of time this morning, search engine Ask.com accidentally leaked private search query data for all to see.

Search query data was leaked via Ask.com’s Apache server status page located at Ask.com/server-status. If you visit that page now you’ll see it has since been locked, but for a few hours this morning it was very public. This was first noticed by Paul Shapiro on Twitter.

Thanks to the internet’s trusty Wayback Machine you can get a look at at least 5 snapshots taken from when the page was open. Here’s one, for example.

Here’s a screenshot I took:

Ask.com Accidentally Leaks Private Search Query Data

If you look closely in this screenshot, you can see queries such as:

  • “scorpio horoscope predictions”
  • “posters for sale”
  • “SPACE ALIEN TRADING POST”

That’s just a small sample of the many public queries you can look through by viewing the Wayback Machine’s snapshots. This goes to show that once something is made public on the web, inadvertently or not, there’s almost no taking it back.

While this looks bad for Ask.com, searchers themselves needn’t worry. IP addresses of individual searchers were not revealed, only IP addresses of Ask.com’s internal servers.

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Matt Southern

Lead News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt Southern has been the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a degree in communications, Matt ... [Read full bio]

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