Feeds

Google Docs suffers serious security lapse

Cloudbusting bug shares documents

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
China: You, Microsoft. Office-Windows 'compatibility'. You have 20 days to explain
Told to cough up more details as antitrust probe goes deeper
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.