Google struggles to defend Apps security

Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Google struggles to defend Apps security

    Google’s recent release of a white paper on its security policies and technologies for Google Apps is notable for its effort to assure users and potential customers that the information stored by Google is safe. As TechCrunch put it, “Google Does The Hard Sell On Security For Its Enterprise Apps.”

    “It’s no secret that Google has ambitions of becoming an Enterprise productivity suite powerhouse; perhaps one day taking over the top spot from Microsoft. As Google’s President, Global Sales Operations and Business Development Nikesh Arora told us at TechCrunch Disrupt a last week, Google hopes for Apps to be a billion dollar revenue stream in three to four years.”

    But such success depends on convincing users that their data is truly safe inside the Google cloud. And convincing users depends on transparency, as evidenced by the announcement, “Security First: Protecting your data with Google Apps.”

    “Feeling comfortable storing data in the cloud involves trusting a cloud services provider and the practices and policies they have in place,” wrote Eran Feigenbaum, Director of Security for Google Enterprise.“In today’s ultra-connected, web-capable world, understanding how data will be protected is ultimately more meaningful than knowing it is physically located in one data center or another. We know that our customers expect us to be transparent, and we work hard to do just that. For example, earlier this year we disclosed a cyber attack against Google and at least twenty other large companies from a variety of industries.”

    Indeed, Feigenbaum touts security as the main reason a company or organization would use Google Apps is security — not the cost savings or convenience. That is a measure of how crucial perceptions of security have become to Google’s future.

    Doubts are evident in the higher education market. In March, Yale University put its planned changeover of the university’s e-mail to Google Apps for Education on hold, citing faculty concerns with the decision.  The matter has been referred to a faculty committee for review. In May, University of California at Davis ended its GMail pilot project due to faculty concerns on security and privacy.

    Feigenbaum’s posting announced a new page to learn more about security and privacy protections for schools called “A technology platform schools can trust.”

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