Google says ISP glitch exposes Gmail data in Kuwait

Gmail user in Kuwait stumbles onto more than 30 other users' personal e-mails when he can't access his own account. eBay dealt with a similar ISP problem a while ago.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills
2 min read

Updated February 21 with further comments from the Gmail customer in Kuwait, plus comments from eBay and a reader from Sri Lanka.

A glitch with an Internet service provider in Kuwait has enabled at least one Gmail user to access others' Gmail accounts, Google said Wednesday.


A Gmail user in Kuwait reported to CNET News.com over the weekend that he had been having trouble for most of the day logging into his account. More troubling, though, was the fact that he was able to see other people's private information, including scores of personal e-mail messages, "keycodes for some embassy gate," as well as usernames and passwords, Abdulaziz Al-Shalabi wrote to CNET News.com. "Most likely, other strangers are taking a look at my own personal stuff as I type this."

He said he had inadvertently logged into more than 30 other accounts, and he supplied about two dozen screen shots as proof. Al-Shalabi said the problem was fixed by Wednesday. He said used the same ISP to access his Microsoft Hotmail account during that time and encountered no problems.

Meanwhile, a reader from Sri Lanka reports that he had a similar problem with his Gmail account.

An ISP in that region is having a caching problem on its servers that is affecting Gmail users there, as well as eBay accounts, Google spokesman Jason Freidenfelds acknowledged. Google has contacted the ISP and is supplying a workaround for Gmail, he said. Freidenfelds said he did not know which ISP it was or how widespread the problem was.

eBay worked with the ISP to resolve the problem at least a month ago, spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe said Friday morning. "It wasn't a major problem...not anything on a large scale," in terms of duration, she said.

Sharpe said she could not say how many eBay customers were affected and declined to say how long the glitch lasted. PayPal customers were not impacted by the problem, she said.

I'm still waiting for more information from Google and will update the story when I have it.