Archive for Google

Office365, Google Docs, And iWork Verboten From Some German Schools

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , on July 15, 2019 by itnerd

Privacy regulators in Germany have ruled out the use of Office 365, Google Docs or Apple’s iWork suite citing privacy concerns over the way these cloud services work. TNW reports the following:

Microsoft’s cloud services has run into a fresh roadblock in Germany, after the state of Hesse ruled it is illegal for its schools to use Office 365 citing “privacy concerns.”

The Hesse Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI) ruled that using the popular cloud platform’s standard configuration exposes personal information about students and teachers “to potential access by US authorities.”


The use of cloud applications by schools is generally not a data protection problem. Many schools in Hesse are already using cloud solutions. Whether, for example, the learning platform or the electronic class book: Schools can use digital applications in compliance with data protection, as far as the security of the data processing and the participation of the pupils is guaranteed.

The core issue is that telemetry data is sent out of Germany to the US, and this can include personal data.

This information can include anything from regular software diagnostic data to user content from Office applications, such as email subject lines and sentences from documents where the company’s translation or spellchecker tools were used.

Collection of such information is a violation of GDPR laws that came into effect last May.

And what makes the situation worse is that switching away from Microsoft to a Google or Apple solution is not possible:

What is true for Microsoft is also true for the Google and Apple cloud solutions. The cloud solutions of these providers have so far not been transparent and comprehensibly described. Therefore, it is also true that for schools the privacy-compliant use [of these alternatives] is currently not possible.

Thus schools have to run local copies of these apps and store data locally. Although the ruling has so far been made by only one state in Germany, it seems likely that the same issue would apply across the country. That means that Microsoft, Google and Apple will have to address this quickly to avoid a blanket ban across Germany.


Company Accidentally Deletes Data… Then Sues Google When Google Can’t Restore It

Posted in Commentary with tags on July 15, 2019 by itnerd

From the “this is insanely stupid” file comes this situation which I think you will agree is a facepalm moment:

An interior design tools startup called Mosss on Wednesday sued Google to get it to restore its data after someone at the startup accidentally deleted the firm’s G Suite account. In a pro se lawsuit [Warning: PDF] filed in US District Court in Oakland, California, Mosss, under its previous corporate name, Musey Inc., asked Google to help it restore its data…

Initially, the filing says, the company believed Google would be able to help because a customer service representative said he’d deal with the issue. But the cavalry did not arrive… “All efforts failed and at the end we received a one-line email that stated our data was lost and couldn’t be returned to us.”

Except perhaps not. According to the complaint, the company was informed – it’s not clear whether Google or a third-party advised this – that it could seek a subpoena or file a civil lawsuit to access its data. So that’s what it has done.

A lot of companies think the cloud takes away the need for them to make backups of important data. But when they do something dumb, something like this happens. But I will admit that this is the most extreme case of a customer flipping out at a cloud provider that I have heard of. Let this be a lesson to people and companies out there. Just because you are “in the cloud” does not mean that common sense does not apply. You need to make backups of all your data so you don’t become like these people. And people like me laugh at you as a result.

Google Calendar Is Down…. Do Not Be Alarmed

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 18, 2019 by itnerd

If you are trying to get to Google Calendar, and you can’t it’s Google and not you as per this:

But the good news is that it is starting to come back after a more than two-hour outage this morning. But full service isn’t expected to be restored until 10:40 a.m. Pacific time. Which is subject to change. For those on the East Coast. Early lunch perhaps? Unless you keep your lunch dates in Google Calendar that is.

Various Google Services Are Down…. WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags on June 2, 2019 by itnerd

Google’s status page indicates that Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Hangouts, Meet, Chat, and Voice as all being subject to a massive outage that seems to be hitting Google users across the east coast of the US and a handful of places across the globe from the looks of it via Down Detector. At present, there is no estimate for recovery, nor has Google provided information regarding the root cause of the incident. So if you can’t get to any of these services, it’s Google and not you.

Watch this space for any updates.

Update 7:30 p.m. Eastern time: Google reports that all services have been restored, more than four hours after the first reported outage.


Google Left Some G Suite Passwords Unhashed For 15 YEARS…. WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 22, 2019 by itnerd

Google says a small number of its enterprise customers mistakenly had their passwords stored on its systems in plaintext. The exact number was not disclosed. “We recently notified a subset of our enterprise G Suite customers that some passwords were stored in our encrypted internal systems unhashed,” said Google vice president of engineering Suzanne Frey:

The search giant disclosed the exposure Tuesday but declined to say exactly how many enterprise customers were affected. “We recently notified a subset of our enterprise G Suite customers that some passwords were stored in our encrypted internal systems unhashed,” said Google vice president of engineering Suzanne Frey.

Passwords are typically scrambled using a hashing algorithm to prevent them from being read by humans. G Suite administrators are able to manually upload, set and recover new user passwords for company users, which helps in situations where new employees are on-boarded. But Google said it discovered in April that the way it implemented password setting and recovery for its enterprise offering in 2005 was faulty and improperly stored a copy of the password in plaintext.

Google has since removed the feature.

No consumer Gmail accounts were affected by the security lapse, said Frey.

I’m sorry, but Google didn’t make a mistake. What you see here ladies and gentlemen is incompetence. This is a multi-billion dollar company failing at basic security and not finding their mistake for 15 years. Sorry, Google, you don’t get to claim anything but your own incompetence and stupidity when it comes to this security screw up.


Google Slapped With $1.7 Billion Fine

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 20, 2019 by itnerd

European regulators have slapped Google with a $1.7 billion fine on charges that its advertising practices violated local antitrust laws:

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s top competition commissioner, announced the punishment at a news conference, accusing Google of engaging in “illegal practices” in a bid to “cement its dominant market position” in the search and advertising markets. The new penalty adds to Google’s costly headaches in Europe, where Vestager now has fined the tech giant more than $9 billion in total for a series of antitrust violations. Her actions stand in stark contrast to the United States, where regulators — facing a flood of complaints that big tech companies have become too big and powerful — have not brought a single antitrust case against Google or any of its peers in recent years, reflecting a widening transatlantic schism over Silicon Valley and its business practices.

For those keeping score at home, that’s the third time in three years that they’ve been hit by fines by the EU for bad behavior. At this point if you’re Google you have to wonder what you have to do to stop this from happening. If I were running the company, maybe I would start with altering the company’s behavior as it has to be clear to anyone that they are clearly doing something either wrong or something that goes against their meaningless mantra of “do no evil “.

Google Announces Stadia Gaming Service

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 19, 2019 by itnerd

Google today launched its Stadia cloud gaming service at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco.

Stadia is not a dedicated console or set-top box. The platform will be accessible on a variety of platforms: browsers, computers, TVs, and mobile devices. In an onstage demonstration of Stadia, Google showed someone playing a game on a Chromebook, then playing it on a phone, then immediately playing it on PC — a low-end PC, no less –, picking up where the game left off in real time. Stadia will be powered by Google’s worldwide data centers, which live in more than 200 countries and territories, streamed over hundreds of millions of miles of fiber optic cable, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.

Phil Harrison, previously at PlayStation and Xbox, now at Google, said the company will give developers access to its data centers to bring games to Stadia. Harrison said that players will be able to access and play Stadia games, like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, within seconds. Harrison showed a YouTube video of Odyssey featuring a “Play” button that would offer near-instant access to the game. Pichai announced the new platform at the Game Developers Conference, saying that Google want to build a gaming platform for everyone, and break down barriers to access for high-end games.

Users will be able to move from YouTube directly into gameplay without any downloads. Google says this can be done in as little as 5 seconds. At launch, Stadia will stream games at 4k resolution, but Google claimed in the future it will be able to stream at a video quality of 8k.

Here’s the catch, will this service be around in the long term given that Google has a habit of abandoning stuff. But I guess we’ll find out as I can’t blame them for wanting to jump into this space.