February 19, 2006

New Google Desktop: Configure It Carefully, or Forget It

I've been meaning to post this: That's the warning from the EFF, as reported in The Register. I know many people think Google Desktop is the coolest thing for personal info management, but I've previously posted my concerns here. It just keeps getting more complicated for maintaining control over your personal data, unless you are very committed to learning exactly what the software does and knowing what escapes out through your firewall.

Thus one should question using a number of these free tools. It's not paranoia when others have confirmed it. If you do, then in addition to the configuration suggestions, see if you can configure your software firewall to block all its traffic requests, particularly outgoing traffic to try to limit its phone home capabilities. If you don't have a firewall that can block outgoing traffic by software program, get one, pronto. It never hurts to add a second layer of protection, but don't rely on any single precaution as absolute.

It also makes me wonder about the effect on client confidentiality when used on a PC with access to sensitive documents and other data. Even if the privilege isn't waived, if one is representing a client with questionable or confidential activities, then you aren't exactly helping to keep them confidential with tools such as this, right? It's a bit difficult to unring the bell, food for thought. Not professing any legal advice, just good old-fashioned common sense. Let's be careful out there.

Topic(s):   Privacy & Security
Posted by Jeff Beard