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Thread: EFF: Don't Use Google Desktop

  1. #1
    Master OptiBoarder rbaker's Avatar
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    EFF: Don't Use Google Desktop

    The nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation said a new feature added to Google Desktop on Feb. 9 is a serious privacy and security risk because of the way a user's data is stored on Google's servers. Check it out here:

    http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895...06dtx1k0000599

  2. #2
    Bad address email on file OptiBoard Gold Supporter Sean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbaker
    The nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation said a new feature added to Google Desktop on Feb. 9 is a serious privacy and security risk because of the way a user's data is stored on Google's servers. Check it out here:

    http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895...06dtx1k0000599
    Good point....... seems it's always had security problems right from the get go.

    http://www.optiboard.com/forums/show...4889#post84889

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    ATO Member HarryChiling's Avatar
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    You fail to realize that it is offered for free as a service and makes your files more accesible to you no matter where you are. If you are storing sensitive information on the google servers than shame on you and you deserve to be exploited. The fact that it is not directly accessing your computer, but a cached version on the google servers means that your computer is not in risk of being exploited. I applaud EFF for all that they do great organization, but this one is a far stretch after all it is still in BETA.
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    Bad address email on file OptiBoard Gold Supporter Sean's Avatar
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    There are lot of people that think the new Google Desktop is great and revolutionary......... However, there are several things wrong with it that make me stay away from it.I know it is still only Beta........and that nothing is perfect........and there is nothing saying that i wont use it in the future .....once things get ironed out.This is not meant to offend its just a point of view ......If any one wants to use it.........use it......after all it is free. These are some of the reasons why i dont .....Here's the short list ....in no particular order...of why i wont use it in its current stage of development.

    It hooks up WinInet.dll....... Hooking up system level component and intercepting all incoming/outgoing traffic on my machine has nothing to do with my desktop search..... (Btw, it's amazing how many antivirus programs Google Desktop is incompatible with because of this).
    They inject desktop search information in the Google web search results...... While this might seem like a reasonable thing to do..... it also means I should now be aware that when I do web search with somebody over my shoulder that I might be divulging private information.

    Google desktop can be installed only as the admin...the only reason I can think of for this limitation is the WinInet.dll hooking up. I want desktop search to search my files ....... files that belong to me and I have exclusive access to them. I shouldn't have to be admin to search my data.
    It can be used only by the user that installed it...... This means non-admins can't use it. That alone rules it out from most pc's ........that are used where admin user should be logged only for Windows Updates and application installations.
    By using the browser as a interface....... it means that any search strings in the Google Desktop will show up in the Google.com page if you double-click on the Search for text box and you have Autocomplete for Forms enabled in the browser.

    It runs a webserver on your box...... While it's supposedly listening for localhost requests only..... it means that every malicious webpage out there can possibly access it and do a post back with the results to their server. Also....... what are the chances that the desktop search page doesn't suffer from the same XSS exploit the main Google page suffers from?
    It makes copies of your browser cache......... without warning about this or giving anyone any option to clear it...... I have not tried this with Outlook email, but I wouldn't be suprsied if they do it for email as well. Btw, if they do it, it might be in direct violation of the email retention policies of some companies.

    It installs as a browser extension. Hm......... I wonder why that is..... if it has hooked up WinInet.dll anyway.

    I know........ I can turn off indexing AIM in Google Desktop Preferences......... but I shouldn't have to make my privacy choices there. I am aware that I would have already made the explicit chioce of allowing Google to index my AIM chats. However, that does not implicitly allow Google Desktop to search my whole network traffic. The privacy preferences of the primary program that produces the indexed data SHOULD be respected.

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