One of the leading ways that hackers are able to obtain information to help them plan attacks is through information leaked on search engines. The security firm Bat Blue Network’s CEO Babak Pasdar has noted that Google presents a security threat to many organisations based on the way that it identifies users.
According to Mr. Pasdar, Google identifies users and builds profiles of them using information including geo-location and emails as well as demographic data. Then, Google presents the information both directly and indirectly which could lead to problems for the companies for whom these individuals work. Another major issue occurs when users synchronize their contacts, calendar and other information with the Google servers.
Search Engines, such as Google, are a tool for hackers as they can find and gather these little pieces of information, putting them together to create a picture that could cause a major security risk. While each individual piece of information may not be significant by itself, but put together it can allow a hacker to identify the vulnerable areas of an organisation.
This may become even more of an issue as Google makes even further improvements. For instance, senior vice president Amit Singhal has revealed that the company is working towards unveiling a semantic search that would deliver search results based on understanding the data of its users.
There are those who worry that Google itself could benefit from this information, by obtaining “insider information” about mergers, acquisitions or other stock data that may be revealed from this data. Google has assured it will not look at that data, but some critics worry that this is not enforceable.
Because of this, it is important that organisations should beware search engine data. This is done in two ways: The first is regulating the data outflow, by limiting what free services employees can use and what information they can share. The second is focusing on network security, so that they can quickly detect and respond to attacks made using information.
While there it is impossible to stop hackers from accessing data, making it more difficult is an important step and learning to properly respond if they find and use that data is also key. Following this advice can significantly reduce the impact this has on most organisations.
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