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How Much Is Your Organization Telling Google?

By Rich

Palo Alto Networks just released their latest Application Usage and Risk Report (registration required), which aggregates anonymous data from their client base to analyze Internet-based application usage among their clients. For those of you who don’t know, one of their product’s features is monitoring applications tunneling over other protocols – such as P2P file sharing over port 80 (normally used for web browsing). A ton of different applications now tunnel over ports 80 and 443 to get through corporate firewalls.

The report is pretty interesting, and they sent me some data on Google that didn’t make it into the final cut. Below is a chart showing the percentage of organizations using various Google services. Note that Google Buzz is excluded, because it was too new collect a meaningful volume of data. These results are from 347 different organizations.

Here are a few bits that I find particularly interesting:

  • 86% of organizations have Google Toolbar running. You know, one of those things that tracks all your browsing.
  • Google Analytics is up at 95% – is 5% less than I expected. Yes, another tool that lets Google track the browsing habits of all your employees.
  • 79% allow Google Calendar. Which is no biggie unless corporate info is going up there.
  • Same for the 81% using Google Docs. Again, these can be relatively private if configured properly, and you don’t mind Google having access.
  • 74% use Google Desktop. The part of Desktop that hits the Internet, since Palo Alto is a gateway product that can’t detect local system activity.

Now look back at my post on all the little bits Google can collect on you. I’m not saying Google is evil – I just have major concerns with any single source having access to this much information. Do you really want an unaccountable outside entity to have this much data about your organization?

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