Google ditching Windows over security makes little sense

Google ditching Windows over security makes little sense

Summary: A Financial Times report that Google is phasing out the internal use of Microsoft's Windows operating system because of security concerns makes little sense to anyone paying attention.

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The Financial Times is reporting that Google is phasing out the internal use of Microsoft’s Windows operating system because of security concerns.

The report, which is short on solid sourcing, quotes Google's employees as saying the company is steering people towards using Apple's Mac or the Linux operating system to avoid malicious hacker attacks.

From the FT article:

“We’re not doing any more Windows. It is a security effort,” said one Google employee.

Many people have been moved away from [Windows] PCs, mostly towards Mac OS, following the China hacking attacks,” said another.

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New hires are now given the option of using Apple’s Mac computers or PCs running the Linux operating system. “Linux is open source and we feel good about it,” said one employee. “Microsoft we don’t feel so good about.”

In early January, some new hires were still being allowed to install Windows on their laptops, but it was not an option for their desktop computers. Google would not comment on its current policy.

Employees wanting to stay on Windows required clearance from “quite senior levels”, one employee said. “Getting a new Windows machine now requires CIO approval,” said another employee.

[ SEE: Questions for Pwn2Own hacker Charlie Miller ]

As any regular reader of this blog knows, Apple's Mac OS X is not exactly safe and secure.  In fact, when it comes to targeted attacks (like Aurora and the kinds that Google should be worried about), the Mac might be the easiest to penetrate because it lacks the anti-exploit mitigations now common in Windows.

This story makes little sense to me.  For starters, Google's software products are made for -- and marketed to -- mainly Windows users.   How exactly are software developers expected to build products for an operating system when they're not allowed to use it?

As much as we love to bash on Microsoft over security, the newest versions of the Windows operating system are by far the most difficult to penetrate.

If Google has an internal problem with mass-market malware (scareware, ID-theft trojans, etc.), then it would make sense to push some departments to an alternative OS but if this is a reaction to the Aurora attacks, then the company is pushing its head deep into the sand.

See also:

Topics: Google, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Security, Software, Windows

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60 comments
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  • Small typo, big difference

    [i]Apple?s Mac OS X is no [b]less[/b] secure than any other mainstream operating system[/i]

    OS X is no [b]more[/b] secure and, as you mentioned and has been proven over and over and over again at every single hacking content, OS X is actually far [b]less[/b] secure than other OSs.

    While Windows, being as good and popular as it is, is the target of more social engineering attacks, OS X is a far more vulnerable OS.

    [i]This story makes little sense to me.[/i]

    Maybe because it isn't true? The whole story is based off:
    [i]said one Google employee.
    ...
    Google would not comment on its current policy.[/i]

    Riiiiiiiiiight.
    NonZealot
    • I say good riddance

      ... if it means finally there's no more Google spyware aka Chrome for example running on Windows after they quit it.
      LBiege
    • MAC X or Linux as an option

      @NonZealot Why not give the employee an option. If they don't want linux, then offer the MAC. Sure MACs have their vulnerability that far exceeds Windows computers, but if behind a firewall, they are both equal. The rest is up to the user. Me, I prefer Linux over Macs or Windows anyday.<br><br>But what are they changing, Windows Servers as well. Their vulnerability is faulty where a linux server is more stable and have better "uptime" then any windows system. <br><br>One last note is the lack of updates from Microsoft. Sure, they patch something, but you have to wait months for the fix, and Google doesn't play the waiting game anymore.<br><br>Macs = Advanced Graphic design<br>Linux = Anything and Everything
      Maarek
      • RE: Google ditching Windows over security makes little sense

        @Maarek If you think a firewall is all that's needed to protect a system from attacks, then I really hope you aren't responsible for securing any information systems...
        s_southern
      • You obviously missed the part that this is bogus too. hmmm.

        So you believe stories based on "said one Google employee" with absolutely no word, nada, officially, from Google?
        This only shows how eager the ABM crowd is and how they are ready to feed off of any morsel they can find.

        That is truely sad. It really is.
        xuniL_z
      • You obviously missed the part that this is bogus too. hmmm.

        So you believe stories based on "said one Google employee" with absolutely no word, nada, officially, from Google?
        This only shows how eager the ABM crowd is and how they are ready to feed off of any morsel they can find.

        That is truely sad. It really is.
        xuniL_z
  • Windows is not needed by Google Devs

    Google is an Internet based company and does not need Windows to develop web applications which is what they primarily do. Its one of the reasons that I am in web development myself; no need to bind myself to one OS. As it stands I currently use a Linux Desktop OS simply because it makes my life easier and safer than Windows does and Apple is to closed off for me to feel comfortable restricting myself that way.

    Personally, I believe Google would have done better, with all their OSS work in Linux, to rather enforce moving people to a Linux desktop.
    garethmcc
    • Erm... yes they do!

      @garethmcc Have you heard of a browser called Chrome for Windows. I wonder why it was released for Windows and only recently became V1 for Linux and Mac?
      General C#
      • On Linux you still have access to Windows through VirtulaBox or VMware

        @General C#

        And that's how things are supposed to be: boot windows only when strictly necessary, keep your windows session as short as possible and do it for testing purposes only.
        OS Reload
      • @OS Reload: Funny, that is my attitude towards OS X!

        I have a Mac but I installed Windows on it. I only ever boot into OS X to install firmware upgrades since Apple refuses to release firmware upgrades that can be run from Windows (talk about anti-competitive!!!). Anyway, I boot into OS X only when strictly necessary and I keep my OS X session as short as possible. PWN2OWN has proven that OS X simply isn't safe in a connected environment.
        NonZealot
      • RE: Google ditching Windows over security makes little sense

        @General C# Because it DOES make business sense to push you products in the greater market share first. Btw Chrome on linux is v5.0.3 currently. And Chromium (also v5.0.3) is they same browser without the "spyware" people keep harping about. Both available on linux since mid last year albeit early versions.
        blakjak.au
      • RE: Google ditching Windows over security makes little sense

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    • RE: Google ditching Windows over security makes little sense

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  • america = almost 100% marketing these days.....

    And so people just go off their assumptions about things without any real detail to back it up. The culture pushes things more than any tech detail could. Google I see is embarrassed that they got hacked so I guess its time to put on the blame game to Windows.
    OhTheHumanity
  • Trying to blame their shoddy security on somebody else

    Like their WiFi data gathering, pushing the blame on "a programming error".

    Google has hit that point where thy're getting enough black eyes anymore, that they've taken the "it's not our fault" excuse.

    Sad, and pathetic...
    John Zern
    • RE: Google ditching Windows over security makes little sense

      @John Zern
      Google has hit that point where thy're getting enough black eyes anymore, that they've taken the "it's not our fault" excuse.

      Oh, you mean like Microsoft has for years? Their tech support is all but non-existent, and too, too many of the security holes discovered way back in the mid-1990s are still around. Yes, Microsoft is one of the biggest hacker targets, but their QC still lacks... or they'd have methods in place to find and remove vulnerabilities before the hackers found them.

      Apple has a "let's deny our OS is vulnerable" attitude, which is even more immature, though AppleCare is more responsive to user needs.
      Raymond Danner
      • Hi Ray. What does MS's past have to do with Google's present?

        What's the problem? Google is taking hits for their mistakes and blunders, and whatever some other company did doesn't change the problems that Google's having today, and the response to those oversights

        That's like saying that it's OK to rob 1 of your neighbor's houses because somebody else robbed 5 of your neighbor's houses.
        John Zern
      • RE: Google ditching Windows over security makes little sense

        @Raymond Danner Actually this is for John Zern that replied to you Ray.

        Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.
        What goes around comes around.
        Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.

        All good sayings that got started for a reason.

        I would personally love for Google to take some market share away from MS. The problem is, Apple, may not be. Thus allowing for Google to vent their security issues that what when the next time comes up. Either by Apple being jealous of the switch and purposely trying to disrupt Google to keep them from market share that was Apple's to take, or because it is simply not secure.

        Do the Chinese not own Macs?
        dbisse@...
      • RE: Google ditching Windows over security makes little sense

        @Raymond Danner Well they do indeed do testing, but they cannot find every bug. Any programmer knows that you cannot find every bug in everything. Especially when people are going to be using the OS
        Jimster480