February 22nd, 2006, 19:42 PM
Old and Cranky
IT departments issued security warning about Google Desktop 3
The 'search across computers' feature in Google Desktop 3 poses an "unacceptable security risk" to the majority of businesses, Gartner has warned.
Google launched the Google Desktop 3 beta a few weeks ago with a feature called 'search across computers' which enables PCs to share information and documents.
However, to achieve this Google stores an index of files intended to be shared on its own server for 30 days, even though they are promised to be encrypted and available only to a limited number of Google employees.
Yet Gartner warns that many IT departments will be alarmed simply because the data leaves the safety of a corporate network.
"Its mere transport outside the enterprise will represent an unacceptable security risk to many enterprises," the analyst said.
"Also, workers will not always reliably identify documents that must remain outside the category of shared items."
As such, Gartner is advising IT departments to replace the individual version of the software with the enterprise version (Google Desktop for Enterprise) immediately.
Gartner added: "[Organisations] must also evaluate what they are allowing to be indexed, and whether they are comfortable that they can adequately bar the sharing of data with Google's servers."
February 22nd, 2006, 20:29 PM
Old and Cranky
Google admits security risk with Google Desktop 3
After a veritable horde of criticism and complaints from various sources, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Google has admitted that version 3 of their indexing software Google Desktop has serious potential security risks. With the potential for information in the form of indexed documents being made available to third parties, the risk of identity theft, intellectual property theft, disclosure of secret information, et cetera, all rises.
Gartner said in a report on Thursday that the "mere transport (of data) outside the enterprise will represent an unacceptable security risk to many enterprises," as intellectual property could be transported out of the business. Google told ZDNet UK on Monday that it recognized the risk, and recommended that companies take action. "We recognize that this is a big issue for enterprise. Yes, it's a risk, and we understand that businesses may be concerned," said Andy Ku, European marketing manager for Google.
The particular feature in question is Search Across Computers, which allows files to be located from multiple machines with little fuss. Usually a company doesn't admit a problem until a fix is available, but Google's fix is to disable the feature. There is also an Enterprise version of Google Desktop 3, which is more tailored to environments where this sort of information leakage is a serious risk. At least Google is doing something about this.