Document Security



Image by MichaelMarlatt via Flickr

I awoke this morning to see this trending topic from Tech Crunch.

http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/07/huge-google-privacy-blunder-shares-your-docs-without-permission/

Uh oh.

This would be the worst of everyone’s fears about cloud computing and the potential for bad things to happen.  For a lot of reasons, people including me, use Google Documents all the time.  It’s an awesome way to share documents among collaborators.  I’ve used it for sharing resources on numerous occasions when time and distance are of concern.  The resources and flexibility are among the very best of the resources of this type on the web.

But, it does give you pause for a reality check.  Whenever I demonstrate its use, one of the litmus tests that I ask participants to consider is how comfortable you would be with this information appearing on the front page of the local newspaper.  This is certainly overkill but is a reminder to enter the use of these things with both eyes open.

We don’t need to focus on beating up on Google.  They responded to the situation appropriately, and in a timely manner as witnessed by this first person report.

http://slashdot.org/~RichardDeVries/journal/225229

In education, this isn’t the first incident.  Read more about them here.

http://www.adamdodge.com/esi/

Increasingly, we find more and more services for free on the web.  If you read the terms of use, you’ll note that you’re not guaranteed total security and most services are up front about it.  By the same token, no service wants to be blamed of shoddy practices or, even worse, a security leak just waiting to happen.  But, it can.  Carefully thought through strategies and risk management need to be part of the decision making whenever you are evaluating the use of these things.

Otherwise, it just might happen to you.

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