Google Docs’ Privacy Blunder: Shares Your Docs Without Permission

by Bharat Suneja

Just as I was beginning to warm up to certain kinds of cloud computing comes news of Google Docs’ “privacy blunder”. Google has sent a notice to a number of users notifying them that it may have inadvertently shared some of their documents with contacts who were never granted access to them. Jason Kincaid writes in TechCrunch:

According to the notice, this sharing was limited to people “with whom you, or a collaborator with sharing rights, had previously shared a document” – a vague statement that sounds like it could add up to quite a few people. The notice states that only text documents and presentations are affected, not spreadsheets, and provides links to each of the user’s documents that may have been shared in error.

Needless to say, information security and privacy is probably one of the biggest concerns for most organizations when considering a move to cloud services. I point this out not only because it’s Google’s security lapse today, but as we continue to move to more cloud-based services with different vendors, the possibility of such security incidents occurring with other service providers cannot be ignored.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous March 9, 2009 at 4:05 pm

What can you say about the company whose business model is based upon sharing everything. Regardless of respect to the content owner! I am not saying one should abandoned Google services. But, there is very little one should expect in terms of privacy and security. If you all remember last month Facebook proclamation of owning all user content that was stored by Facebook users on their pages. Albeit, reversed for now amid users outrage. Not long ,every agency will want to examine all on-line data user have posted irrespective of due cause. You say paranoid. Why? As all along user privacy has been breached one way or the other.
I personally am sticking to my proprietary storage system regardless of cost and efforts thank you very much.


Ric Brennan March 23, 2009 at 9:28 am

This is an important risk to weigh, in ANY situation where critical data will go on networked storage. Amd when making that assessment, you also have to weigh the risks of the alternative. For example, if the alternative is your own dedicated network – how secure is that? Google and Microsoft have teams of network security engineers schooled in industry best practices managing their cloud networks. What do you have in your data center? Nothing is 100% safe, but often the professional cloud services have a much better security track record than your own staff.


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