The Twitter Debacle: All Google's Fault?

Posted: Jul 15 2009, 3:00pm CDT | by , Updated: Aug 11 2010, 3:21pm CDT , in Technology News


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Last month a hacker got access to a Twitter employee's Google Apps account. From there he was able to dredge up a whole slew of emails, Google documents, spreadsheets, meeting notes and other information. Today that hacker sent all of the info over to TechCrunch. Michael Arrington posted that they would be filtering out all personal documents, but that they would post the rest.

As you can imagine, this created a bit of a stir. A lot of people criticized Mr. Arrington's decision to publish any of the documents at all. Personally, I don't see what the fuss is about. Journalists receive inside information all of the time. When Boy Genius posts up a leaked internal memo from T-Mobile nobody bats an eyelash. Arrington isn't doing anything wrong by posting this leaked information up for all the world to see. He didn't pay anyone for it, and he's only leaking relevant business-related documents.

That issue aside, this whole thing has really reinforced the fact that storing your company's private documents and data 'in the cloud' is not safe. Google Apps is a useful tool, but it's far from the most secure storage method out there. The hacker who yanked all that data from Twitter apparently got inside by answering Google's 'missing password' questions. As soon as the passwords were guessed, it was easy pickin's for the hacker.

Storing data in the cloud is still fairly new, and it's obvious that appropriate security for corporations wishing to keep their documents in Google Apps doesn't yet exist. Gmail is famously insecure, and if you can get into someone's Gmail account you can pretty much view anything they've ever stored in Google Apps. Big businesses need to take what happened to Twitter as the wake-up call that it was; Google's security is not enough.

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