The Bank of Google

May 31, 2012

By Doug Miller

This week I read about Google’s new achievement of ISO 27001 compliance for its Google Apps offering. One of the more interesting news pieces was a story in Wired where Eran Feigenbaun (aka Eran Raven) Google’s Director of Security for Google Apps was interviewed and compared Google Apps to a bank “in the days when a bank was a new idea”. His actual quote was:

“It’s very similar to the situation banks were in hundreds of years ago. They had to convince us to give them our money, to take the money out from under the mattress and put it in the bank.”

The more I think about it, the more I agree with Mr. Feigenbaun. Google is like a bank for our data. But before I dive more into the banking analogy, I think it is worth noting that it makes total sense for Google to do everything it possibly can to secure its infrastructure by conforming with ISO 27001 and other standards.
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Why Gmail beats OWA, part 2

May 23, 2012

By Jeff Gould

A while back my esteemed co-blogger Doug Miller posted a counterpoint to my post Why Gmail beats Office 365. Doug gives a long list of reasons why, on the contrary, Office 365 beats Gmail. Although he hasn’t changed my mind about preferring Gmail, I have to admit that I agree with almost everything he says. In fact, his post has helped me to clarify my thinking about this topic. At bottom Doug’s argument boils down to the idea that Office 365 is a more powerful online tool that has more of the features that sophisticated enterprise users need, while Gmail is basically a repurposed consumer product.

I have to say I entirely agree with Doug’s argument. But it doesn’t change my mind about using Gmail, and here’s why. The reality is that Doug is a more sophisticated user than I am. He actually knows how to use all the fancy bells and whistles in Office 365 (see his post for examples) and therefore he gets the full benefit from them. I on the other hand use Gmail as a simple email tool with some very limited calendaring functionality on the side. For my purposes, the greater simplicity and speed of the Gmail user interface trump the bigger feature set of Office 365.

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What Utah CIO’s firing means for public sector cloud computing

May 16, 2012

By Jeff Gould

Utah’s Governor has just fired the state’s CIO over a data breach that let foreign hackers steal the social security numbers of 280,000 state residents. Why did this unfortunate episode happen, and what can we learn from it?

Here are the basic facts. Sometime back in March, Romanian data pirates hacked into a state database. Utah, like many states, maintains a database of Medicaid recipients that health insurance providers query to verify a patient’s entitlement status before paying for care. Unfortunately, the way the process works is badly designed: everyone who receives health care in Utah has their name queried, whether they are on Medicaid or not. The CIO can’t be held responsible for this poor workflow design choice. Most likely the politicians are to blame, or perhaps the state department that regulates health insurance in Utah.

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Safari-gate: Did Google break government computing laws?

May 3, 2012

By Doug Miller

On February 17th, the Wall Street Journal reported that a researcher working for them discovered that Google ran hidden code designed to circumvent the security settings on Apple devices that use the Safari web browser. While much of the coverage of this revelation has focused on consumers and whether the action may have violated laws or the consent agreement between the FTC and Google, little has been written about the impact for public sector customers. Public sector customers are big users of Apple devices and these users are governed by a strict set of unique regulations and laws. Given the circumstances of the events here, the question needs to be asked: did Google break any of the laws or regulations that restrict entities from accessing or changing government computing systems?

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