Be Careful with Google Desktop Search

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Be Careful with Google Desktop Search

Google Desktop Search like most Google products makes an awesome first impression. I have tried other desktop search tools, but none of them can match the convenience that Google Desktop Search comes with. It is just a 450K download and it integrates in Google Search itself. The crawler eats quiet some RAM but the result is totally worth it.

However, the beta version does not come with any privacy protection tools. It depends on how you manage your system. To make it simple at this moment, they have designed the software to work for one Windows account per machine. Therefore, other users will not be able to search the system from their login profiles.

Nevertheless, most users rarely care about their own system’s security. Multiple people use same user profiles and if you install a utility like Google Desktop Search on such a system, you turn on the possibility of providing them a very fast and convenient way to find matter on your system. Integration in Google Search results makes it even more of a security hazard. You leave your system open for 10 minutes, and that would be enough for anyone out there to find anything on your system! Emails, Browsing sessions and private documents. Everything is available at the click of a button.

So, if you want the convenience of using Google Desktop Search, make sure that you keep in mind that what you want and what you do not want others to find on your system! Restrict the folders with private documents from Google Desktop Search crawlers and lock your system the next time you go for that coffee.

Sushubh Mittal is the Tech Columnist at Search Engine Journal and also the publisher of TechWhack Technology and Software Journal

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • Bob Travis

    This article assumes everyone is someone else’s employee. I work at home, we all have our own pcs, and everyone respects everyone else’s privacy. Even if we didn’t we don’t keep secrets from each other. I don’t understand what the big deal is all about, but it’s certainly not Google’s fault if you can’t trust your boss or your co-workers. If that is the case you need to look for a new job, not a new desktop search program. Find a job where you can trust everyone you work with or do as I have done for the last 25 years, become self employed. Just don’t blame it on Google. It’s not Google’s fault you can’t trust your boss or co-workers. It’s not even Google’s responsibility to password protect searching. Do it yourself with a password protected screen saver or do it the easier way with a BIOS password

  • Sushubh

    this article also says:

    Nevertheless, most users rarely care about their own system’s security.

  • Razvan Pop

    If you leave your computer open with your user logged in, chances are that if someone wants to read your email it will read it!
    Mails and chat logs are stored in easily determinable locations and the rest of your files should be preety quick to find. Or better yet someone could easily install a backdoor in about 30 seconds and read all your email afterwards from the confort of their home. So *maybe*, in some cases, google desktop search will speed up the process of finding sensitive data but the bottom line is this, if you don’t trust people that have physical access to your computer you should probably consider at least locking your station while you are away.
    Security doesn’t mean keeping your files in a chaotic structure, one that would actualy require searchingin order to find something usefull ;).

  • Sam

    Actually, I agree with Bob and Razvan. And when I read that you could turn off the reporting feature (if you are so inclined), I was about to download it. I said ‘was’ because I didn’t. They also mention that every GDS installed has a built-in number that can uniquely identify the GDS (and hence you). It CAN NOT be turned ‘off’. Now why the hell do they need to uniquely identify you, even if I choose not to communicate them?
    I am still trying to figure that out …

  • Sampath V.K

    I have just downloaded… its awesome. Apart from the security issues, the product rocks!

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