Google Desktop Search- a warning

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GdsPrivacy concerns are always a hot topic with computer users and we are already starting to hear them voiced about the Google Desktop Search utility that was recently released in beta. There are too many blog posts about the concerns to try and link here but most of them point to using Google Desktop in a multi-user environment. I read one account of Google Desktop being used on a public computer at an exposition and everyone who checked their email on the PC had it cached by Google Desktop. This meant that anyone using the same public computer could search the emails of all earlier users. Google’s response is that Google Desktop is not intended to be used on multi-user computers.I am posting this as a warning to all users of Google Desktop Search. I would never install GDS on a corporate work computer for the obvious reason mentioned above. Even individual users on a private computer need to be aware that their single user computer is at risk. Based on all the scare stories surfacing now I did some tests on my work computer. I am the only one using this computer and I know exactly where it has been in the week or so since I installed GDS. Like most people that use Outlook I depend on Outlook’s junk email filtering to eliminate spam, a lot of which is adult in nature. I have it configured to automatically delete the junk, figuring if a real email gets erroneously flagged as junk that the sender will resend it when I don’t respond. Outlook is a very effective spam filtering tool and it catches virtually all junk email, especially spam of an adult nature, shall we say. Since Outlook is deleting it straight away I never even see it.In my testing of Google Desktop I found that even though I never see it Google does. And saves the spam even caching the graphic images in the HTML spam. And it is cached, indexed, and searchable. To test it I searched for a few generic terms that commonly appear in graphic junk mail. Instantly I was presented with 10 PAGES of cached junk email that Google Desktop Search returned in all their glory. Whole spam email is there with all graphic images preserved just as they were sent to me. I have to admit I was pretty taken aback by this and it has me wondering if the ends justify the means of using GDS. So user beware. It’s watching.

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Google Desktop is rather dangerous at this moment. Per default it will index ALL https pages you visit. Including bank account statements and other personal data.

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