Is Google Indexing your Personal Data?
By Kevin White
If you use a computer chances are that you also use Google to search for various things on a daily basis. But what if someone else on the internet could use Google to search for your private information that you had once thought was stored on a secure device on your own private network? A recent study conducted by IT security professionals found that many network attached storage devices (NAS’s for short), or consumer routers used in homes and small businesses can be indexed and cataloged by Google or other search engines. What does this mean? It means that Google has scanned these devices and made them accessible to anyone who types in the correct search criteria. What’s worse is that Google’s “Offline mode” feature may have created copies of these files should the devices be taken off the internet.
Using the correct Google search criteria we have been able to find thousands of resumes, password lists, pictures, tax documents, social security numbers, and even the thesis of an aspiring veterinarian in a matter of minutes. This particular problem stems from users and businesses enabling an old form of file sharing called “FTP” (file transfer protocol). By turning these devices into “FTP servers” without the proper security measures, the users have essentially given the world access to all of their personal or business information.
If you use one of these devices and are worried about the security of your data, contact an IT professional immediately to have them review your devices security settings. Network attached storage devices have their place in the home and small business IT environment, but situations like this serve to highlight the need for having them setup by a trusted IT professional.
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