by CIO Staff

Searching Beyond the Internet

Oct 21, 20042 mins
Enterprise Applications

Early last week I was desperately searching my computer files for notes from an interview I did for a story. Maybe it was late in the day after an American League playoff game or something, but I could not remember…. What had I named it? Where had I stashed it? I tried searching for all kinds of possibilities but no luck. So it was exciting to hear, in a Search Engine Watch story, about search champion Google’s introduction of a robust desktop search.

Your CEO may not be perusing Search Engine Watch regularly, but today’s Wall Street Journal carries a story on a couple of new search services, including Google Desktop Search, as well as A9 from Amazon, My Yahoo Search and Clusty. The article, These Services Search Beyond the Internet and Offer New Formats, reviews the virtues and complications of these products. What it doesn’t mention are privacy or security concerns with any of them.

With the desktop search tools, the initial flush of “Wow, I’ll never be able to hide a file from myself again!” is cooled by the realization that you can’t hide it from anyone else either should they get access to your computer. As our own CIO here said, “If I get up to get a cup of coffee and don’t lock my screen, someone can find anything on my PC within seconds—docs, spreadsheets, business plans, browser history, slides…. Admittedly, a snooper could find this stuff anyway, but what might have taken an hour to find before (requiring sustained access to your PC) can be done in remarkably short order; that is, as long as it takes to grab a cup of coffee.”

Another review in last Saturday’s Mercury News does bring up the risks involved and, like our CIO, recommends against installing the program on corporate or public computers. The article, Google’s Desktop Search Is Valuable, Yet Creepy, could prove useful for reining in undue enthusiasm and unauthorized downloads at your organization.

The Wall Street Journal requires a subscription for online access. The story appears on page B1 of the Oct. 21, 2004, edition.