Troogle

Bad news for Google

Posted in Gadgets, General, Problems by igortinbergen on March 20, 2009

At the time, when Google Desktop Search is already competing with big players like Yahoo, MSN, AskJeeves, Gartner has just made the going even tougher.

Don’t use Google desktop search in your business, warns Gartner. Google Desktop Search has great potential for business use. Its security problems and lack of corporate-ready functions, however, make it unsuitable for widespread use right now.

googledesktop

Gartner has warned that companies shouldn’t use the new Google Desktop Search tool because of security concerns and a lack of features. In a three-page research document, the authors – Whit Andrews, Maurene Grey and David Smith – say the tool that was released in beta in October is “not the proper search tool for businesses right now”.

Instead they reiterate concerns put forward by the CEO of Google rival Copernic, David Burns, two months ago: “Google’s ‘Consent to Collect Nonpersonal Information’ states that GDS collects non-personal data; however, the policy is a one-sided contract in that the user must trust that Google will make the right decisions as to what it will collect.”

However, it also doesn’t offer enough features and for it to recommend Google it would want to see “greater customisation of interface, flexibility for visualisation of results, groupwide administration and index load-balancing”.

This is certainly not good news for Google at a time when its biggest competitor MSN desktop search is getting better reviews. Preston Gralla of Oreilly writes:

Google may be the ultimate Web searcher, but when it comes to finding things on your computer, the just-released beta of MSN Desktop Search beats it hands-down.

That’s because Microsoft’s search tool has been built specifically to search through emails and documents, and so it lets you fine-tune your search in ways that Google doesn’t. So if you’re looking for a specific piece of email, for example, you can search by folder, by sender, by date, by size of file attachments, and more – and you can combine them all for exceedingly fine-tuned searches.

Additionally, MSN Desktop Search has an interface that lets you easily sort and resort your results, and lets you right-click on any result, and then take actions on the file from a pop-up menu – the same pop-up menu that appears when you right-click in Windows Explorer.

There are a lot of other nifty extras in it as well. It can sit as a box in your Taskbar for example, and when you want to do a search, type your search into the box, and results pop up, menu-style. Click on any result to get straight to the file or email.

Google’s search tool, on the other hand, uses the Web search paradigm. You can fine-tune it in ways you would when searching the Web, but not in ways you’d like to when looking for files or email on your hard disk. The interface is bare-bones Google, which is fine for the Web, but not suited for when you’re looking for files, and then working with them on your PC.

Don’t expect either of these search tools to change drastically. Google has applied the Web approach to searching and applied it to your computer. Microsoft instead applied what it knows about Windows, Outlook, and documents. And the winner, without a doubt, is Microsoft.

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Hackers poison PCs that Google “March Madness”

Posted in General, News, Technics by henrydewaag on March 18, 2009

Cybercriminals have begun poisoning Google search results to misdirect sports fans looking to participate in March Madness festivities, security firms say. Websense has found poisoned “search engine optimization” results mixed in with legit results for Google searches on “March Madness schedule,” “March Madness brackets,” and “2009 NCAA bracket predictions.”

This story explains how poisoned SEO results can re-direct your browser to a website serving up all sorts of malicious programs. SEO attacks have become very popular with cyber gangs who specialize in redirecting you to online pitches to buy worthless antispyware subsctiptions for $50. Most often the bad guys will also turn your PC into an obedient bot, and steal all of your sensitive data.

“Cybercriminals specifically take advantage of events like March Madness, because they know consumers are actively looking for brackets to download, the best teams to fill in and pools to participate in,” said Carol Carpenter, vice president of consumer marketing for Trend Micro. “These crooks are smart and know what people are searching for throughout the year. We advise all consumers that they should always keep their anti-virus software protection up-to-date to prevent all infections.”

Good advice. But keeping your antivirus subcription current won’t fully protect you. The bad guys have gotten very good at staying one-step ahead of the latest antivirus updates.

To truly stay safe while surfing the Internet you need to do your homework and be ready to give up convenience. There are numerous consumer tools designed to assess the goodness of the Web page you are about to click to, and tell you whether it’s safe. AVG, ScanSafe, McAfee and Enigma have consumer web scanning tools and services worth checking out.

And here’s a tip: WinPatrol offers very powerful protection. It’s a terrific free tool, popular with techies since it was created 10 years ago by Bill Pytlovany, one of the original designers of AOL and a longtime open-source practitioner. The premier version, called WinPatrol Plus, costs just $30 for a lifetime subscription, which includes all updates, and is designed for the average consumer. WinPatrol takes a snapshot of your Windows run registry, and from then on blocks and alerts you to any new executable program, such as a malicious backdoor, that tries to install itself on your hard drive.

By Byron Acohido

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Google wants to have our information

Posted in Innovation, Web by whuup on March 14, 2009

Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

The infamous Google mission statement is written above. We think it is just not anymore what we want Google must do. Google is already demanding individuals to share music listening history with Google. What is Google thinking? Why should we let them track, record, analyze, manipulate, archive and exploit our personal music listening habits? Google’s actions are far from innocent and always profit driven. Remember people: Google is a company, not a non-profit love-sharing organisation.

Google Privacy Blunder Shares Your Docs Without Permission

Posted in Problems by astromanic on March 7, 2009

googledocsimgIn a privacy error that underscores some of the biggest problems surrounding cloud-based services, Google has sent a notice to a number of users of its Document and Spreadsheets products stating that it may have inadvertently shared some of their documents with contacts who were never granted access to them.

According to the notice, this sharing was limited to people “with whom you, or a collaborator with sharing rights, had previously shared a document” – a vague statement that sounds like it could add up to quite a few people. The notice states that only text documents and presentations are affected, not spreadsheets, and provides links to each of the user’s documents that may have been shared in error.

I’ve contacted Google for confirmation and haven’t heard back, but this seems to be legit – our tipster says that he had previously shared the document listed in his notice, but now it has been reset to show 0 collaborators (one of the precautionary measures mentioned in the note).
Update: Google has confirmed that the note is real, and says that it was an isolated incident affecting less than .05% of all documents. The damage may not be widespread, but it’s still an unsettling lapse in security.

Here’s the letter in full:

Dear Google Docs user,

We wanted to let you know about a recent issue with your Google Docs account. We’ve identified and fixed a bug which may have caused you to share some of your documents without your knowledge. This inadvertent sharing was limited to people with whom you, or a collaborator with sharing rights, had previously shared a document. The issue only occurred if you, or a collaborator with sharing rights, selected multiple documents and presentations from the documents list and changed the sharing permissions. This issue affected documents and presentations, but not spreadsheets.

To help remedy this issue, we have used an automated process to remove collaborators and viewers from the documents that we identified as being affected. Since the impacted documents are now accessible only to you, you will need to re-share the documents manually. For your reference, we’ve listed below the documents identified as being affected.

We apologize for the inconvenience that this issue may have caused. We want to assure you that we are treating this issue with the highest priority.

The Google Docs Team

In short, this is a massive blunder on Google’s part. I fully appreciate the lengths Google has gone to to offer a wide array of helpful online services, many of which are free of charge. But this error highlights why cloud-based services scare many people. Regardless of what a site’s posted rules and policies are, a technical glitch is all it takes to expose your sensitive data.

Update: An affected user posted his story and the exchange he had with Google support over the issue on Slashdot.

Update 2: A Google spokesperson has confirmed that the note is real:

We fixed the bug, which affected less than 0.05% of documents, and removed any collaborators. We also contacted the users who were affected to notify them of the bug and to identify which of their documents may have been affected. We have extensive safeguards in place to protect all documents, and are confident this was an isolated incident.

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