ask

Though you may have forgotten but Ask.com is still kicking and alive. It’s a question answer-focused search engine and is currently suffering from a rather unfavorable technical glitch. It is exposing the personal searches of everyone using the platform in real-time on the server status page.

Surprisingly, Ask.com’s Apache server page is open to the public at the moment and it means you can just sneak a peek at the search engine’s queries without any restrictions. You are currently free to take a look at any users’ search queries and outgoing links related to them at ask.com/server-status. No personal information, such as IP addresses, has been made available via this status page. All IP addresses listed in the screenshot attached below are internal server IPs, so that’s a sigh of relief.

Ask.com bleeding user searches on its server status page was initially spotted by Paul Shapiro. So, he immediately took to Twitter to make everyone aware of there being a possible technical glitch that’s causing this leak to happen. Here’s the tweet:

Here’s a screen grab of the server status page showing the searches conducted by the users and the links which they followed after the same:

As suggested above, Ask.com’s server status has somehow been made public. The server pages are usually private and enable company engineers to scout and fix errors in the platform. And as Search Engine Land points out, the last time Ask.com’s server was restarted was three days ago. So, it is possible that the engineers squashed some bugs and rebooted the system but accidentally forgot to protect and close the server status page. There is currently no information on how long the status page has been exposed to the public.

This is a grave mishandling of personal information by the search engine giant, which further shows us how easy it is to access info on the interwebs (such as someone searching for best salads in fort lauderdale). We’ve reached out to Ask.com for updates on the server data leak and will update the story once we hear back from them.

UPDATE: In a statement sent to The Tech Portal, an Ask.com spokesperson says,

We have been working to address the inadvertent publishing of the Ask.com server status page and can report that this matter has now been globally resolved. We can confirm user IP addresses were not accessible during this incident, only queries and the IP addresses of our internal servers. We regret this error and are committed to protecting the confidentiality and security of our users’ information.

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