Google Apps constitute an unnecessary risk for business users

Google has been vigorously promoting the services available through Google Apps as acceptable IT solutions for business as well as personal usage. Yet the use of Google Apps introduces a number of extra rows to the risk column of a company"s Risk Analysis spreadsheet.

An essential consideration is security. Famously, the internal systems of the online company Twitter were recently hacked via Google Apps. But don't let this distract you from other essential issues; security isn't the only concern. For example, there's inherent risk simply in losing control over some of your data or files. Imagine a theoretical scenario in which government or military officials have migrated to Google Apps, and must urgently respond to some major emergency, only to find that the Internet connection is down...

Any external web site presents a security risk to users within a company. Web sites can be hacked in various ways. Furthermore, the Internet is a public, external network, thus any data sent or received is vulnerable. Even over a "secure" connection HTTPS with SSL there is no immunity from hackers. Importantly, however, the dangers of third-party online Apps or Cloud systems are not confined to the web. Related third-party software installed on the user's own machine is yet another risk, like buggy software provided by Google. A recent bug in the Google Apps Sync plugin prevented users from being able to find their emails -- all emails were affected, even emails which had nothing to do with Gmail.

Despite trusted brands and good PR winning over a number of early adopters, The era of Apps has not yet dawned, notwithstanding an impressive number of early adopters. Not every company has decision-makers who are immune to the seductive magic, or implicit safe feeling, that can be generated by combining ingredients such as a familiar brand, or a trendy idea, with ingenious marketing and PR. It all seems a lot like the parable of the children"s fairy tale, The Emperor"s New Clothes, in which it takes a while for everybody to realise that in fact the emperor is naked and it was all a bit of a con. The staff at these companies carry on as normal, rather like carefree lambs ready for slaughter. Eventually a truck will come to take them to the abattoir.

The proportion of companies where somebody in a position of power doesn't get the dangers of Google Apps is small. Nevertheless, any move by users to a less secure IT environment -- while hackers and fraudsters become more advanced each day -- is a disturbing trend.

06 August 2009

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Tim Acheson (15 Oct 09, 10:47)

Google Docs still unreliable -- with ongoing bugs, performance issues, security problems, etc.:

Selected quotes from the original article:-

Users are having difficulties with file uploading, exportation, and printing from inside of Google Docs."
"Google Docs, built from the purchased Writely, and now challenged for its life by Google Wave, has had a long storied history of buggy code, 500 errors and the like."
"There has been much discussion lately of the perceived, actual, and potential reliability of the cloud. ... People have had similar qualms about the safety of documents stored by Google in the cloud ... With disasters ..."

Extracts from users’ comments so far:-

"it’s driving me nuts"
"i did want to upload more of my old documents and cant do it right now ... I too hope they fix it ... mass upload feature was nice even though it was creating duplicates of some of the documents ..."

Hmmm. If his model is so inherently flawed why is Micosoft pushing their mail solution to the cloud? Windows SBS2008 doesn't even include exchange as it is assumed any small business is going to the cloud for mail hosting. Think about it ... Is your mail server safer from hackers when you are maintaining it or when it is hosted at the Google data centers and Postini filters .......

Tim Acheson (06 Jan 11, 10:23)

Rxf, the model is not intrinsically flawed. Microsoft does things a bit differently though (e.g. they also offer a private cloud). Of course, different people/organisations will have different needs.

Rxf, I'd prefer you to at least use a genuine email address when you comment, even if you don't give your name; I'm often tempted to remove comments by folks trying to conceal their identity, though I won't do so on this occasion.

(For some reason, people who challenge articles questioning Google often hide behind fake identities. I guess some people are reluctant to be associated with popular claims and arguments that don't stand-up to intelligent scrutiny.)

Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass' favor.

Zune and iPod: Most people compare the Zune to the Touch, but after seeing how slim and surprisingly small and light it is, I consider it to be a rather unique hybrid that combines qualities of both the Touch and the Nano. It's very colorful and lovely OLED screen is slightly smaller than the touch screen, but the player itself feels quite a bit smaller and lighter. It weighs about 2/3 as much, and is noticeably smaller in width and height, while being just a hair thicker.


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