New Search Tool Feature Raises Security Issues

We use Google as our default search engine at school and have the Google toolbar installed on every computer. Now I hear that the latest version may cause security problems in schools, but I’m unclear about why. Do you know about this?

In October, Google released a test version of a free Desktop Search tool. It’s this feature that is raising some issues. Desktop Search allows users to search a computer hard drive for E-mails, application files, chats, and Web pages stored there. For single-user computers, there isn’t an issue. However, when a computer system is used by more than one person, as often happens in a school setting, anyone who uses Desktop Search can access all E-mail and other files viewed on that system by any other user unless precautions have been taken.

This raises concerns about privacy and security. Google plans to add security features to protect multi-users; however at the time this was written, they weren’t available. You can still use Google without this tool, so for the time being, simply do not download the Desktop Search tool onto school computers.

Submitted by: Susan Brooks-Young

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