Privacy at Risk: The Hidden Dangers of Google File Sharing

Privacy at Risk: The Hidden Dangers of Google File Sharing

Google File Sharing, Oops! The file you are sharing is not encrypted!

In storing files online, people nowadays rely much on cloud storages because aside from the convenience, storage sites now offer a bigger space per user. But have you ever bothered to ask yourself how secure is it to upload your files to these sites?

The most popular cloud storage available today is the Google Drive and its email platform, Gmail. (Who on earth doesn’t know Google?) One of the things these sites boast about their storage system is the security and privacy.

Wait… Did I just mention privacy? Perhaps it’s time to take a pause and discuss some dark facts and the pitfall of sharing files on Google.

How Secure is Secure?

Of course, before you signed up for these free cloud storages and file sharing apps, they bragged about their “A+” security. Isn’t it one of the reasons you trusted them with your precious files? We always fall for “Your privacy is our concern.” Before you answer “yes”, let us quickly go through this list and see if Google really lives up to their promises.

1. Terms of Service.

While Google assured their users that they retain ownership of any intellectual property rights of any file uploaded to their system, this statement seems to control those rights.

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

The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).”

Yeah, this sounds like no matter what you feel about it, once you have uploaded what’s yours, Google has the right to use it for “improving” their services. And don’t worry. Even if you delete your file and your account, Google can still continue to use the content. (Looks like there is no escaping the system.)

2.  Google has to comply with world governments.

Uh-oh. Even just hearing it makes you wonder. What is it for? Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee exposed that the government is spying on its people collecting telephone records from millions of Verizon customers. He also revealed that Google and Facebook made it easier for the government to collect data from their users through a program called Prism. They say it’s to detect possible terrorist attacks beforehand, but who would ever believe that?

3. Ownership of files can be transferred.

Careful! Transferring ownership to another person can be done as easy as 1, 2, 3, and this sometimes happens accidentally! For enterprises, yes, it’s prone to data leaks.

4. Send without sharing option.

One of the most critical parts of sending files via email is the sharing option. When you send a drive file to someone who does not have the permission to view it, there’s a “Send without sharing” option in Gmail. Otherwise, your file will become public.

5. “Wherever you are, we are there.”

Also known as, “One Account. All of Google”. Indeed, it is easier to manage your Google apps with just one account and password, but the downside of it is that you are more vulnerable to hacking. One account hacked, all of Google.

These are just some of the risks in using Google and probably all other cloud storage and file sharing platforms online. For Gmail, phishing is still one of the main security problems, so make sure to clean your inbox regularly and never click on suspicious links especially if you found them in your spam folder.

Since Google does not use client-side encryption, you might want to consider doing a pre-encryption setup using a third-party software on your computer before uploading your files. It is extremely important that you know the pros and cons before using any services on the Internet. Always remember: Your privacy, your responsibility.

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Jackie Edwards

Now working as a freelancer, Jackie Edwards started her career in software development and later became an IT teacher. She loved both careers greatly, but left the latter behind when she became a parent and turned to writing as a way to make her living. She now writes on tech topics and anything to do with news and current affairs. In her free time she volunteers for a number of local charities.

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