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How safe is Google Docs?

Launched in 2012, Google’s trio of services - Google Drive, Google Docs & Google Sheets - are a popular way for businesses to carry out their work online.

Google Drive acts a cloud storage service, Google Docs as an alternative to Microsoft Word and Google Sheets as an alternative to Microsoft Excel.

Among the perks of these services is the ability for multiple users to edit their work in real time. This means that from a business perspective you can have various different people working on a document and making changes that will be reflected instantly.  Because of the easy to use nature of Google’s apps, more and more businesses are becoming reliant on their services, storing lots of important and sometimes sensitive information along the way. But, exactly how safe is it to rely to on these services?

Email access
In order to gain access to these Google products you need to have an email account with Google’s email service Gmail. This email address then acts as your username. So an obvious vulnerability is that if anyone happens to gain access to your email credentials, then they by default have access to your Google Drive and all of the files that you have stored there.

Phishing
So phishing scams are a very real threat.  A recent example of this involved a highly convincing scam where hackers managed to spoof a fake Google Document. They emailed users inviting them to access this document and then spoofed Google’s log in page to trick them into giving away their credentials.  It pays for both you and your employees to be vigilant when accessing your emails and if you feel unsure about the legitimacy of an email you should always ask your IT support company for advice before accessing it.

Terms and conditions
Another concern regarding using Google Drive is the terms and conditions. Where some cloud services such as Dropbox make a promise not to share content with other parties, Google’s commitment is less clear-cut.  It reads:

“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” 

While Google go on to say that you retain ownership and intellectual property rights and the clause is most likely a precautionary measure, it’s still likely to raise a few eyebrows, especially if your company deals with highly sensitive customer data or trade secrets.

Here at ECL we provide companies with custom cloud based services which allow them to store anything from fully hosted corporate IT infrastructures down to simple online backups and photo storage.  To find out more and to discuss your options please call us on 01268 575300 or email us at info@ecl.co.uk.

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