Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mountain View, We Have a Problem

"There's a problem here, and it's not just because everyone suddenly decided to become a drooling moron on the internet here."

- Google user Freyar on the Gmail support forums

Another day of people complaining of hacked Gmail accounts and still no official word as to the cause. Although PCWorld does say that Google is now investigating the uptick in account hijackings, they're quick to note that the good folks at Mountain View are not acknowledging any bugs or security flaws on their end at this time.

In keeping abreast of this issue as it's been developing I've seen a lot of blaming the victims going on, both in the Google forums and elsewhere. While it's true that many online accounts are compromised by means of phishing or via insecure desktop computers, when this many otherwise tech-savvy users are suddenly complaining about a new issue all at once you might want to consider being just a little less condescending (and you might want to change your own passwords as well while you're at it, no matter how "strong" you think they are).

It would also be nice to get more of an official acknowledgement from Google that something is amiss. I've been a Gmail enthusiast since 2004 and while I understand that hacking is something that can happen even to the best of systems it would be nice for Google to post something to its blog addressing the problem rather than having to get third-party confirmation that they're working on it via the press.

I've predicated my faith in using Gmail as my primary means of communication on two things: one, that the system is as secure as the alternative (if not more so); and two, that even if there were some kind of security breach Google would be right on top of it, both in terms of resolving the issue and communicating it with its users as transparently as they were able in as timely a manner as they could. The longer GOOG maintains its silence on the recent outbreak of hacked accounts, the less confidence I'm going to have in them in the future.

It's up to you, Mountain View.

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