I loved the title of this Computerworld article: "The Smart Paranoid's Guide to Using Google."
More than a catchy title, the article provided a good deal of wisdom regarding Google's privacy and security flaws. It's hard to find someone who doesn't use a Google-related application in some way, both for enterprise and personal business. As the article pointed out:
Do you realize that Google may have recorded and stored every single search term you have ever punched into its search box? Chances are some of those searches could be soberingly damaging to your reputation. What about Gmail? Have you ever sent any sensitive e-mails? How about business information stored in Google Docs? . . . Data about your habits, interests, activities, schedule, professional pursuits, stock portfolio and medical history could be sitting somewhere on Google's servers -- along with records of the trip routes you've mapped, the Web sites you've visited and much more.
Google's security and privacy problems have been well documented over the years. Over the past month, for example, Google has been handed a class-action lawsuit for Wi-Fi sniffingand is facing questions over privacy on its street-view mapping. Recently, Google Chrome required security fixes, and there are concerns about security in Google Docs. My colleague Lora Bentley wonders if Google really understands privacy concerns of users around the world. It's a fair question.
Obviously, privacy and security issues aren't unique to Google, as any Microsoft user will quickly point out. However, as Google's dominance on how the world does business online grows, users need to be aware of the risks that are out there and how Google responds to the complaints and problems.
The Computerworld article offered sound advice on how to use Google and its many applications safely, with two levels of security:
But as author Logan Kugler said:
In the end, only you can determine what trade-offs between security and convenience make sense for you.