Feeds

Google Docs suffers serious security lapse

Cloudbusting bug shares documents

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Google confessed to a serious bug in its Docs sharing system over the weekend, but downplayed the security cockup by claiming only a tiny number of users had been affected.

The internet search kingpin said that less than 0.05 per cent of Google Docs accounts were hit by a privacy breach after documents were shared “inadvertently” with other users.

Mountain View said in a blog post, penned by Docs product manager Jennifer Mazzon, that the security lapse was “limited to people with whom the document owner, or a collaborator with sharing rights, had previously shared a document.”

She claimed that very “few users” would have been affected by the bug “because it only could have occurred for a very small percentage of documents, and for those documents only when a specific sequence of user actions took place.”

Google said the error was limited to its Docs system within Google Apps and did not affect its spreadsheet system, though some presentations were also hit by the error.

The company fixed the bug by using what it described as an “automated process to remove collaborators and viewers from the documents” that had been exposed to the security glitch.

In other words it stripped all sharing privileges from the documents affected by the bug and then informed affected users that they would have to manually re-share their documents.

“We're sorry for the trouble this has caused. We understand our users' concerns (in fact, we were affected by this bug ourselves) and we're treating this very seriously,” said Mazzon.

Google has recently been attempting to woo businesses away from desktop-based Office suites in favour of adopting the company's cloud-based Apps system.

In January Google confirmed it had inked deals with IT resellers to sell its online applications to biz customers. From the end of this month authorised resellers will be able to flog, customise and support premium versions of Google Apps.

However, this latest bug could lead some businesses to conclude that pushing their personal information up into the clouds simply poses too big a security risk. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.