Google, Inc. seems to hope that thousands, possibly millions, of internet users will trust their digital data to the Mountain View, California company, the same one that sings forth the anthem “Don’t be evil.”
Google’s GDrive was announced last week, possibly as a teaser, because the announcement was quickly removed from the search engine giant’s website. The internal corporate notes that were online for a short time reflected plans to serve more than just search engine data. GDrive subscribers would be able to upload word processing, spreadsheet, and other digital data files to the GDrive servers, creating a virtual hard disk in the sky that allows access from any authorized computer, home, office, or borrowed.
The online copy, called the “Golden Copy,” according to Google’s document, would serve as a backup of the user’s data.
Most Microsoft Windows users know how to save documents on their local hard drive, usually the C: drive, in the My Documents folder. Corporate users are accustomed to saving data on network file shares, and Google’s GDrive will emulate this service, possibly being accessible as a new drive letter. Anyone who knows the appropriate GDrive password should be able to gain access to the “internet file share.”
This sounds like a great idea; however, my experience makes me think that most users don’t realize how dangerous it can be to post data online in unencrypted form, primarily because most of us pick access passwords that are too short or too common, in other words, too easy for crackers to guess.
Google’s GDrive does circumvent the need for virtual private networks (VPN) to gain access to commonly shared files that are stored on remote drives; however, it does not include the other features that make VPNs a solid alternative for businesses: it does not encrypt data transfers end-to-end. Employees who log into a business’s Google GDrive from a wi-fi hotspot, such as Starbucks or McDonalds, will find that the data they upload and download will be accessible to anyone within radio range of their notebook computer…the data is not encrypted while being transmitted over the wi-fi network, unless a VPN is in place, something that Google’s solution will lack.
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