Banish the spy on your desktop

We hear lots about telcos in the region putting the padlocks on sites deemed to be not in the public interest. Outrage, uproar, and streams of letters to editors are the order of the day in response to such actions.

  • E-Mail
By  Colin Edwards Published  October 8, 2006

|~||~||~|We hear lots about telcos in the region putting the padlocks on sites deemed to be not in the public interest. Outrage, uproar, and streams of letters to editors are the order of the day in response to such actions.

But what would be the reaction if these same telcos put a ban on Google – that oracle of the ether that more often than not points the way to those sites that end up getting banned.

Don’t panic. It’s not happening yet. Well, not in the Middle East anyway. But the UK, now that’s a different matter. There it’s not the case of Governments, telcos or service providers deciding to take the high moral ground. No, it’s CIOs who want Google cast into the wilderness this time.

At a CIO forum organised last month, managers from some of the top UK corporates debated the wisdom of allowing Google onto the desktop. It’s not so much that they want to ban it because employees could be misusing the power of the search behemoth. No, most agreed that the access it provided to content was often invaluable, though undermined their own, some would say puny, knowledge management efforts.

What’s keeping CIOs awake at night is, once again, that old chestnut – security. Now they are worried about Google Desktop’s ability to index potentially sensitive corporate data and make it accessible to searchers and thereby easy for any eSpy hacker to quickly find key data by simply entering a keyword.

The CIOs at the forum had lots of issues and fears about Google’s power and dominance on the desktop and the risk it represents.

While some advocated banning it all together, others felt a little more circumspection was called for. After all, it was on most employees’ desktop already and the sky hadn’t fallen in just yet. Better to make everyone more aware of the appropriate use of Google in the enteprise.

So the paranoia around technoogy continues to gather momentum. Not so long ago it was the issue of making sure laptop data was secure and could not be accessed if the device got into the wrong hands. Then it was the potential threat that the expanding mass memories of innocuous office tools like mobiles, iPods and USB thumb drives posed should anyone decide to walk away with the equivalent of a room full of documents in his pocket. And now it’s Google.

Any minute now we’re going to be reverting to the Green Screen Age of dumb terminals in the name of a risk-free enterprise that is fully Sarbanes-Oxley compliant but totally useless as a functional business entity.

In other words the whole IT revolution of the past 40 years will have been rendered useless. Of course, there are some around who believe that has always been the case. Nicholas Carr, that thorn in the flesh of IT, has followed up his 2003 “Does IT matter?” Harvard Business Review treatise with a talk in London last month at which he told the audience that companies have been misled into thinking that technology can make them more productive. For those who care, that’s another issue for another day – or is it?

||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code