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Google Is Setting the Pace for Cloud Security

Google, the chief evangelist of that awful “C word,” has been experiencing some cloud (the “C word”) services-based incidents. Not too long ago, a software flaw in Google Docs resulted in the files of certain users to be obtained by others to whom access was not authorized. Earlier this week the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint Tuesday with the FTC, asking that the Federal Trade Commission conduct an investigation into possible privacy protection letdowns in Google’s cloud computing services. Gmail hosted e-mail services, Google Docs, and Google’s Picasa photo sharing service are the best-known of these services.
As I have said many times before, Google deserves much of the credit for advancing IT technology to new heights. At the same time, I wonder if Google executives are aware of the extent of dangers inherent in cloud services. Google has not fared all that badly so far, but the potential for worse things to come concerning security incidents appears to be very high.

Google recently has come up with a rather unusual new solution for privacy protection issues—a privacy dashboard designed to protect customers better by offering more transparency to what others can find out about them as well as control over their personal information. This dashboard shows Google account settings and whether links to management pages for such accounts result in information being publicly available. I went to a gmail group account that I share with a few friends and looked at the Google dashboard information for this account. I saw almost nothing of real relevance or interest, but then again, this might simply indicate that little information is associated with the account, something that I suspect is true. Still, I have a hard time imagining that this dashboard would be all that helpful to users worried that their personal information might leak to the public. At the same time, however, something is better than nothing when it comes to information.

For better or worse, Google, the leader in cloud security, is also setting the pace for cloud security. Simply speaking, cloud security is a relatively new issue. Google needs to assert its leadership in the cloud arena by going farther than it has–by developing, testing and implementing effective security mechanisms in cloud computing. The Google Dashboard is a good start, but cloud security requires much more.

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