Put those smartphones away: Google adds anti-copying measures to Drive for Work

How's that business model looking, Dropbox?

Google has rolled out five new functions aimed at beefing up the security, administration and sharing features of its Drive for Work cloud business suite and the equivalent education package.

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"Since we launched Drive for Work 9 months ago, we've watched as more and more businesses moved to the cloud - and seen that they prioritize data security as much as we do," said Scott Johnston, director of product management for Google Drive.

"Gartner ranks security at the top of the list of concerns that companies have about moving to the cloud, which is why we’ve put security front and center in our products from the beginning. And to keep your company’s data even more secure in Drive, we’re launching new sharing controls, alerts and audit events to Google Drive for Work and Google for Education over the next several weeks."

On the security side, the new administration console on Drive will allow controllers to lock out certain departments from accessing files using the settings menu. It has also added an "information rights management" feature to block particular files from being downloaded, printed and copied.

(It's a good thing determined employees haven't heard of screenshots and smartphone cameras.)

To ease the load on administrators, Drive users can now reset their own passwords without having to get an admin to do it for them. Hackers may well welcome the change since it makes it a bit easier to engineer their way into accounts.

Administrators can set up alerts to trigger when passwords and account settings are changed, outages start, and so on. Google gives the example of being able to get a notification if a document marked "confidential" is shared with someone outside the company.

That kind of sharing via the Drive cloud is going to get a lot easier. The new changes include the ability to pass around documents with people outside of Drive groups just by adding an email address, and the recipient will be able to view files without either signing into Google or the Drive group.

The changes are going to be rolled out over the coming weeks, but Johnston promised more changes are on the way later in the year. The team is working on an expiring access feature that limits how long certain files can be shared, and Google also plans an expansion of trusted domains for Drive users. ®

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