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2/17/2006
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Gartner: Turn Off File Sharing In Google Desktop

Google Desktop 3 Beta poses a data security risk to enterprises, Gartner said in a research posting on its Web site.

This story was updated Friday at 5:44 PM ET.

Tech research firm Gartner Inc. is recommending that enterprises turn off the file-sharing feature in Google Inc.'s desktop software.

In a research posting on its site, Gartner said businesses allowing employees to use Google Desktop 3 Beta, which was released Feb. 9, should start using the enterprise version of the software immediately. In addition, it said businesses should disable the Search Across Computers feature.

The feature enables people to share files in their computers. Google does this by storing index copies of the files on its server for up to 30 days. The information is encrypted, and computer users decide which files they want to share.

The problem with the feature, according to Gartner, is that employees are not always reliable in identifying documents that should not be shared. Such files could include those with regulatory or security restrictions, the researcher said.

"Organizations using the enterprise edition should immediately disable the feature," Gartner analyst Whit Andrews said in the posting. "They must also evaluate what they are allowing be indexed, and whether they are comfortable that they can adequately bar the sharing of data with Google's servers."

Files stored with Google are only accessible to a small number of employees who do not view their contents, the company has said.

A Google spokeswoman said the company did not disagree with Gartner, but added that an enterprise version of Desktop 3 would be available "in a matter of days." Management capabilities for network administrators were available in the enterprise version of Desktop 2.

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