Google Desktop

This free software is popping up frequently, and I pass on this cautionary note circulated at my employment:

Submitted for: UCF Computer Services Network Operations Center Security Team
Subject: Google Desktop Search-Do Not Use

Google, maker of the popular search engine, has developed a search tool for use on personal computers. The latest version of this tool–Google Desktop version 3-contains a feature that allows individual users to store a virtual copy of files from their hard drives on Googles servers so they can search the data from a second computer. While useful, the feature can compromise the security of individual users or the university.

Many national security firms, as well as UCFs Network Security Team, are warning users of the significant security risks this creates. Because there is no limit to the files that might be copied to Googles servers by this tool, such files could include sensitive personal data, data protected by FERPA or other laws, or confidential research data. Further, once on Googles servers, users files would be subject to disclosure
through subpoena.

Because of these risks, the UCF Network Security Team is advising that The Google Desktop Search application should not be downloaded or installed on any university personal computer. Thank you for your cooperation.

Network Security Team
University of Central Florida

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