Google has announced the latest version of Google Desktop. I tested the previous versions of the product with satisfaction. The searches were fast, the documents, e-mails and files showed were also good and relevant for the search keys used and the indexing process was well designed acting only when the computer had idle times. The “missing” feature was the limitation of searching only in the local file space. This limitation has been removed in this new version and, in addition, Google stores a copy of the index on the company’s servers. The company argues that the index will be retained only for 30 days and it will be protected and encrypted and Google will not compromise the information on the indexes. What will be use of this information? Actually , I don’t know; but it wouldn’t be a surprise that it could be used within other services like Gmail, Google maps or Orkut or for other unspecified data mining purposes. As the matter of fact we must trust Google and trust that this information will be well protected within their complex network.
From my point of view, with this issue arise two important risks:
- Although the information will be encrypted before it is transmitted to google’s servers it does not . Somehow the information could be intercepted by strangers.
- When the information is stored in the servers it could be viewed by other (inside or outside Google) specially if it’s integrated with other services.
These risks are quite high not because the control in place are weak but because the information stored in our desktop. Individuals and organizations have the more sensitive information stored in personal folders and mail inboxes. That is the impact of an eventual data theft will affect this very information.
Recommendation: Asses if it worth it and consider the use of enterprise search solutions.
StrategIT Tip: Information and meta information should be controlled. Some desktop applications could undermine our protections. To monitor the security and privacy impact of this applications should be an intelligent habit of managers.