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June 2, 2010

Google Employees Need Permission to Use Windows

Financial Times reports that Google will no longer use Windows internally because of security concerns.

"The directive to move to other operating systems began in earnest in January, after Google's Chinese operations were hacked, and could effectively end the use of Windows at Google, which employs more than 10,000 workers internationally. New hires are now given the option of using Apple's Mac computers or PCs running the Linux operating system. Employees wanting to stay on Windows required clearance from 'quite senior levels,' one employee said. 'Getting a new Windows machine now requires CIO approval,' said another employee."

In January, Google explained that "in mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google". The attacks used an Internet Explorer vulnerability and Microsoft said that they mostly targeted Internet Explorer 6.

It's strange to see that a cyber attack was one of the main reasons for closing Google's Chinese search engine and for no longer using Windows at Google. Most likely, Google intends to test Chrome OS internally and one of the most interesting things about Chrome OS is that it's very secure.

20 comments:

  1. Also see Microsoft's response: http://windowsteamblog.com/windows/b/bloggingwindows/archive/2010/06/01/windows-and-security-setting-the-record-straight.aspx

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  2. Microsoft: "When it comes to security, even hackers admit we’re doing a better job making our products more secure than anyone else. And it’s not just the hackers; third party influentials and industry leaders like Cisco tell us regularly that our focus and investment continues to surpass others."

    Um, yeah. If my house were falling apart, I'd be investing more time and effort than my neighbours in fixing it, but that wouldn't mean that my house was safer than theirs.

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  3. This has been pretty much debunked, e.g. here:

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9177565/Google_s_security_excuse_for_dumping_Windows_is_bogus_say_analysts

    I consider it rather irresponsible to repost this rumour without mentioning that it has been debunked.

    I'm reading this because I'm a Google fan, but leaving Windows is not going to make them more secure so this is silly. It's been widely reported for a while now that Windows is much more secure then Mac, so the idea that they would be switching to Mac is rather silly.
    Here's a link for that assertion too:
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-27080_3-20002317-245.html

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  4. @Anonymous:

    Financial Times quoted many Google employees, so I don't think it's a rumor. The article from Computer World doesn't debunk the rumor, it only quotes some analysts which say that "the company's rationale is bogus and disingenuous".

    Windows has evolved a lot, but it hasn't been built with security in mind. Security has always been an afterthought and that's why users have to install a lot of security software. Mac and Linux aren't invulnerable, but they have stronger foundations.

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  5. Oh, I await the MS shill army...

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  6. Why is everyone saying that Google's trying to have internal testing of Chrome OS? Most of Google's employees are probably programming, which Chrome OS most certainly cannot do [well]. The only people I can think of using it are the ones managing abuse on YouTube, Google Groups, etc., and that's a relatively very low number...

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  7. "Windows [] hasn't been built with security in mind." True - Windows was aimed at providing functionality for non-technical users, which it does. For that matter, TCP/IP was not built with security in mind - it was an afterthought.

    Whether Chrome is really more secure, only time will tell. You've heard the old joke that as technicians make things more foolproof, the universe creates better fools. I don't think there is or will ever be a completely unhackable system. The best we can hope for is better-educated users and software that makes hacking so difficult it's not financially worth the effort.

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  8. Sometimes Google boggles me. It's ludicrous to blame Microsoft for Google's poor security practices (which have been pointed out all over the internet). Do they honestly believe using unpatched or obsolete Linux or Mac software will somehow be more secure? If you run an unpatched Apache server that hasn't been hardened are you going to blame Apache if you get owned?

    I guess it makes sense that they would use their own applications and platform internally, but that doesn't seem to benefit me as a Windows user. I want good Windows apps and an integrated platform (where their apps work well together), not an alternative platform. That is what really bothers me about this move to distance themselves from Microsoft.

    All I see here is Google moving further out of touch with the Windows user base. I'm much more inclined to switch my search and services provider from Google to Microsoft than I'm willing to move away from Windows to Google and Linux.

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  9. So, does this mean all development of Google applications for the Windows platform will stop? After all, how can they develop for a platform they cannot support/use?

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  10. Sources inside Google say the guy who wrote the original article is a bit of a crackpot

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  11. So their employees were using IE rather than Chrome browser??

    I imagine Google's desktop apps are just going to get worse now. You can see how bad Apple's iTunes is on Windows.

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  12. Using MSIE over Firefox or Chrome is retarded. Using MSIE 6 is just insane...

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  13. I think Google want to enter forcefully in the Operating system category. It wants to avoid use of Windows and therefore Google told their employee that if they want to use Windows then they should ask to Google to use it.

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  14. @anon: The Aurora hole was for all ie versions, and even if you disable it, internet explorer finds its way into many public-facing windows components.

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  15. I'm sure that tey will not stop developing for windows. It is too big market.

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  16. Guys, why some of you are saying, that this is "moving further out of touch with the Windows user base."? It`s just moving some of thrire workers into other platform, but some of them will still use windows - and windows apps wont be stopped. I dont think, that moving guys from market-part of company will make any diffrence for windows user base... :X

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  17. @Mike Google employees aren't using IE6, the hacker was. There was a hole in IE6 which allowed the hacker, to put it an easy way to explain, see the code of the google website. They then followed the code back to the source (Google Inc.) and started stealing data. Also don't forget that not all of the employees won't be using windows, some will.

    @Randy you are acting a little bit like a windows fanboy. Are you forgetting that it was a hole in IE6 which had them hacked (read what I said to Mike). Also, they aren't distancing themselves from the Windows Fan base, after all certain people are allowed to run windows. Probably the ones making windows app.

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  18. Isn't saying that it is very secure like saying the Titanic is very safe before it launched?

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  19. Google Desktop and Google Talk crashed on my Windows computer lots of times before that. So how is this change going to improve them?
    I knew Google can't write for the desktop PC, but now it looks they can't even use desktops.

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