By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-08-23 Print this article Print

-User Systems Use Is Still Not Advisable"> Bhatla said that even with Desktop 2s ability to support multiple users on one system, Google still doesnt recommend installation for multiple users, since it indexes Web history in real time. "Some people may be concerned about that and may not want other people on the computer to access that information," he said.
Google has tackled the problem of returning secure pages, as well. In the previous version, users had to uncheck the option for not indexing such pages. Now, by default, https files are not indexed.
"That, coupled with the index encryption feature, as well as support for multiple user accounts, [means that] we have significant features to improve on the security of the product," Bhatla said. And, again, the enterprise version of the product gives administrators even greater control over what the application does, he pointed out. "You can say, We dont ever want Internet pages indexed, and users cant change that," he said. Security experts have also raised questions regarding privacy, particularly when it comes to medical or financial records—all of which falls within the realm of compliance with regulations such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley. "From an enterprise perspective, [tools like Google Desktop] raise issues around privacy, Governor said. "Certainly organizations are being audited to be sure they have controls in place around infrastructure. That includes desktop search and anything else. It means IT organizations need to be aware of this stuff." But is Google Desktop capable of finding anything that couldnt be found through other, less direct means? "Rather than navigating the file folder hierarchy, you can find anything you want using search … so the search user interface essentially supplants the Windows user interface and the whole file folder structure beneath it," although you could certainly find the same elements through the file folder structure without Google Desktop, said Joe Wilcox, a senior analyst with Jupiter Media. Pete Lindstrom, research director with Spire Security LLC, concurred. "It is truly embarrassing for anyone to suggest that their security model was based around piles of available yet inaccessible information," he said in an e-mail exchange. "The people who are really worried about [Google Desktop] really didnt have good security to begin with." And yet, Governor said, theres a big difference between a fully indexed desktop and one that is not indexed. "With an indexed desktop, there has to be a chance for exploit," he said. Google Desktop, at the very least, demonstrates the power of scale and search that systems can provide, Lindstrom said, and shows that enterprises must "constantly acknowledge and respond to this by ensuring that our systems are covered regardless of whether we believe the access is there," he said. Jon Oltsik, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said that such desktop search tools are "extremely useful tools for individuals" that need to be added to an enterprise based on risk profile. "If they supersede access control on your file system, thats bad," he said. "Thats no different from Companies should have policies on acceptable use of Web surfing, for example." In other news, Google is expected to unveil a "communications tool" as early as Wednesday that is said to be a step beyond the companys current search-related business focus. The Los Angeles Times, citing unnamed sources, reported Tuesday that Google intends to launch an instant messaging program named Google Talk that goes beyond text-based instant messaging to enable people to use their keyboards to hold voice conversations with other computer users, according to a source quoted by the newspaper. Webloggers have suggested the Google is intending to base Google Talk on the open-source Jabber system. Such a service would make Google a competitor with Skype, which offers a similar service that is popular in Europe. Googles Bhatla declined to comment on the news. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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