The Smart Paranoid's Guide to Using Google

    Date26 May 2010
    CategoryPrivacy
    3114
    Posted ByDave Wreski
    Google is nearly everyone's best friend. But have you ever stopped to think about just how much Google knows about you? Do you realize that Google may have recorded and stored every single search term you have ever punched into its search box? Chances are some of those searches could be soberingly damaging to your reputation. What about Gmail? Have you ever sent any sensitive e-mails? How about business information stored in Google Docs?

    Unless you sat out the last decade offline, you've likely been building a pretty thorough profile of yourself on Google Inc.'s servers. Depending on which of the dozens of Google services you use, data about your habits, interests, activities, schedule, professional pursuits, stock portfolio and medical history could be sitting somewhere on Google's servers -- along with records of the trip routes you've mapped, the Web sites you've visited and much more.

    The good news is that Google anonymizes its server logs by removing the last three digits from the IP addresses associated with searches after nine months and by deleting the associated cookies after 18 months, which makes it very difficult to link you to searches that are more than 18 months old.

    That's still a pretty big window into your life, though. What if any or all of that data ever became public? An attacker could conceivably get access to your information on Google by hacking directly into its servers, or by hacking into your individual account.

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