Gartner issues Google Desktop 3 security warning

'Lock down the search feature or ban it from the network'
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

'Lock down the search feature or ban it from the network'

IT departments are being warned to stop employees using the controversial 'search across computers' feature in Google Desktop 3 because it poses an "unacceptable security risk" to most organisations.

Google launched the Google Desktop 3 beta - previously called Google Desktop Search - earlier this month with several new features including the 'search across computers' option, which allows PCs to share information and documents.

But the fact that Google will store an index copy of the information intended to be shared - albeit encrypted and accessible by only a few Google employees - on its own servers for 30 days will alarm many corporate IT departments, according to analyst Gartner.

The analyst house said in a briefing note: "Its mere transport outside the enterprise will represent an unacceptable security risk to many enterprises. Also, workers will not always reliably identify documents that must remain outside the category of shared items."

Gartner is advising companies that allow staff to use Google's desktop search application to start using the enterprise version "immediately", which allows the 'search across computers' feature to be disabled centrally by the IT department.

Gartner said: "[Organisations] must also evaluate what they are allowing be indexed, and whether they are comfortable that they can adequately bar the sharing of data with Google's servers."

The Electronic Privacy Foundation last week also urged consumers to boycott the software, warning that Google could be forced to turn over the data to governments if subpoenaed.

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