Major flaw found in Google Desktop

@ 2004/12/21
Computer scientists have discovered a potentially serious flaw in Google's desktop search utility that could allow attackers to steal information.

Scientists at Rice University in Texas found a glitch in Google Desktop that could permit an attacker to search the contents of a PC from the internet, The New York Times reports. Dan Wallach, an assistant professor of computer science at Rice, and two graduate students, Seth Fogarty and Seth Nielson, say the risk is real, although an exploit would require a through understanding of the flaw.

Google's desktop search tool was launched as beta software in October. allows users to scour their PC hard drives for files, folders and cached web pages in the same way that the Google internet search engine searches the web. In terms of user interface, the tool looks nearly identical to the Google.com page and will even insert relevant desktop search results and web-based searches.

The software has already faced some criticism over its ability to show users cached versions of supposedly-secret files and web pages, such as online bank and credit statements. Now, the Rice University team say the tool can actually allow attackers to search for files on the PCs of Google Desktop users without their knowledge.

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