Quick Links: SpywareGuide Greynets Blog | SpywareGuide Product Database | SpywareGuide Company Database | SpywareGuide Categories
Search SpywareGuide Database & Site
Security Email Alerts & Updates
SpywareGuide powered by FaceTime Security Labs

The Dangers of Desktop Search- Google Tool as Spyware

by Wayne Porter

We openly admit we are fan of Google and their search technology. Never before has one company brought such a huge revolution to the WWW. When Google launched their desktop search application we immediately gave the beta a whirl on our systems.

Google has billed this as "photographic memory for your PC" and Google didn't let us down. Here is a great piece of software that scans your system and applies the same powerful search you get on the Net only now you have it for all the gigs on your PC. The application was even able to index and cache secure pages, IM messages and chats as well as e-mail.

So far Google lets you index and cache:

Outlook email
Outlook Express email
AOL chats
Word Documents
Excel Spreadsheets
PowerPoint Presentations
Web History
And even HTTPS (secure pages) in web history

Imagine all the cool stuff you had forgotten about like messages you might have read in a forum or via a web-based e-mail client. All conveniently indexed and cached by Google.

pqnelhleyy 4e9fd064 5399ea21

So how could this be dangerous you ask? Imagine this scenario...

A miscreant goes to a university computer or a computer at your local library and installs the Google Desktop Search application. He takes a moment to hide the icon on the system and then walks away for a few weeks. He comes back and fires up the program and begins entering strings like "password" and "Credit card".

In this scenario the threat is apparent. Because the Google Desktop Search program is so powerful it is trivial for someone to install it and use it as snooping agent. Google never forgets.

For awhile we debated on whether to list this as spyware. Even though it clearly wasn?t created for that reason it can certainly be used for nefarious purposes. The same goes for  legit "child monitoring programs" e.g. TeenMinder or web filtering programs which have useful intent but can easily be abused by unscrupulous parties.

For now we aren't including it in the guide although that may change. Users will just have to be even more aware that seemingly innocuous programs can have hidden dangers- even useful programs like Google's Desktop Search sites in the grey- especially in the enterprise. This is true for any machine where more than one person has access to the box e.g. shared home computer, open terminal, or university computer. it is not the fault of technology. Technology is neutral and evil intent is enacted by the user and how they wield the technology.

If you are at an open machine we give the following advice:

1) Only use it for browsing and not for reading e-mail or ordering products.

2) Never conduct banking or other sensitive activities on a public terminal.

3) If you must use it for e-mail be sure to run a remote anti-spyware scan on the machine.

4) Delete cache, cookies, URLS history and temporary files on the machine when done surfing.

5) Be aware that useful programs can be used for spying. In the case of the GoogleDesktop Search hit CTRL-ALT-DELETE and navigate to the Processes Tab. Look for either one or both of these processes running: GoogleDesktop.exe and/or GoogleDesktopIndex.exe. If they are running everywhere you go is getting archived.

6) Always, always use common sense. Try to avoid using any machine which is not completely under your control.

Unless otherwise noted this article is Copyright © 2014 by FaceTime Communications, Inc. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from FaceTime Communications, Inc. For reprint or media inquires please contact us with the phrase "Spyware Guide Articles" in the subject line and we will by happy to assist you. Links to this article from other websites are appreciated and encouraged. Users are also encouraged to utilize our RSS system to provide unique content and extracts for their site.

Read other articles (back to full list)

Help with the BUST!
Click here and give us what details you have and let our international research team take it from there. If you desire your report will remain anonymous.
Recent Blog Posts

There was an error communicating with the requested site.

Recent Modifications
2013-7-20  Date Manager
2013-4-10  BeeBus
2012-12-18  JT.Moonwalk
2012-12-18  Sadbiz
2012-12-18  Troj.GoogleBot
2012-12-18  W32.Licat Worm
2012-11-16  CoolWebSearch
2012-6-21  AntiSpywareXP
2012-6-21  Bget
2012-6-21  Dloader.cao.1

Site EULA | Site Map | Contact Us | About Us | Site and Spyware FAQ | Advertise | RSS Feeds  | Link To Us | SpywareGuide Japan Japanese

© Copyright 2007, FaceTime Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.