Edward Snowden has made it to the White House (on Google Maps at least)

Graham Cluley

Here’s something of a surprise.

According to Google Maps, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has not only come back to the United States – but he’s actually inside the White House.

Well, Edwards Snow Den at least.

Edward Snowden on Google Maps

Take a closer look if you don’t believe me.

Snowden in the White House, according to Google Maps

No, it’s not the case that the US administration has softened its opinion of Edward Snowden following the hilarious interview he made earlier this month with John Oliver.

Instead, as SearchEngineLand reports, security consultant Bryan Seely used a known weakness in the way that Google verifies business locations:

You create a business in Google Maps at an address where you can receive mail and with a phone number you can receive calls to. You get Google to send you a verification postcard to the address. Once the business is verified, you delete it from your account. Then you use another Google account to claim this now orphaned business. You gain control over it by doing verification via phone. Once that’s happened, you’re free to move the business to anywhere you want, change the name and alter other details.

That’s how “Edward’s Snow Den” ended up in the White House with a Seattle-area phone number. The temporary number that Seely used couldn’t be changed — but everything else could.

Seely has previously created fake listings for the Secret Service and FBI and told Google about the loopholes that he has uncovered. But it seems he’s still finding ways to game the system.

That doesn’t impress Seely, as it’s easy to imagine how Google Maps could be abused by location squatters.

“It’s disheartening. It’s like finding out your favorite company is a piece of sh**.”

Google has since removed “Edwards Snow Den” (apparently a snowboarding shop) from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Google Maps, but its business entry on Google Plus is still online.

Edwards Snow Den on Google Plus

You can read more in the article on SearchEngineLand.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

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