5 reasons why Google Drive is a security risk

Google Drive is an incredibly convenient cloud storage solution that offers numerous features and benefits. With Google Drive, sharing documents and working remotely as a team has never been easier. As part of the Google Suite, Google Drive offers seamless integration with other Google services.

However, there are some security risks associated with using Google Drive that you should be aware of. So why is Google Drive still a security risk? How can your data be compromised through the service?

1. Google Drive is a prime target for hackers

Man with computers in dark room

Google is a huge company that deals with countless confidential data of millions of people. Unsurprisingly, Google is a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals.

One of the main reasons why Google is vulnerable to security risks is because Google stores so much connecting data and personally identifiable information (PII). Because users often don’t sign out of their associated Google account in their browser, their usage can often be traced back to them, even with the use of VPNs.

Plus, Google can access your emails, files, documents, and more. In some cases, Google Drive users even keep things like bank account details, identification cards and other sensitive information, which could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Imagine a hacker getting access to one Google account: that’s a lot of information they can use.


2. Google has a history of exploited vulnerabilities

Gmail on laptop

Since its founding in 1998, Google has battled countless dragons before cementing its kingdom. Not every enemy was killed, however, without setting fire to a few villages. In Google’s case, the cost of their success includes compromised customer data, which has become vulnerable over the years.

In 2010, Google published a blog post about a sophisticated hacking attempt by the Chinese government. To find information about human rights activists, hackers used phishing attacks to access Google’s servers. The attack, also known as Operation Aurora, targeted at least 34 other companies, including Adobe, Yahoo and Morgan Stanley.

According to CNN, nearly 5 million Gmail passwords were also leaked online in 2014. In addition, due to a bug in the Google+ API, Google accidentally exposed more than 52.5 million user data in 2018. With this, Google not only has a history of vulnerabilities, but also of active exploitation.

3. Google Drive Scams Are Widespread

One of the biggest risks associated with Google Drive is the sheer number of scams that can be run on it. There are a number of Google Drive scams that are common and it is important to be aware of them to protect yourself. Among which:

  • Leave comments with phishing links.
  • Create fake Google Drive clone websites.
  • Hide malware in Google Drive files.

So what are each of these scams?

Users can create shared files using Docs, Sheets, Presentation, and so on. With it comes endless useful features to collaborate remotely with your team. However, hackers can take advantage by impersonating an account of someone you know and commenting on your files. Then hackers ask unsuspecting users to click on unsafe links.

How to Create Fake Google Drive Clone Websites

Another tactic that hackers use to access your documents is to replicate the interface of the Google Drive website. This would cause victims to accidentally upload their private documents on the wrong website. After that, scammers can use these private documents for corporate espionage, ransomware, identity theft or harassment.

Hide malware in Google Drive files

Google Drive is a popular target for malware because it provides a way to access your files from anywhere. If hackers share a drive with files that appear harmless, unsuspecting users can accidentally download malware onto their computers.

While Google Drive offers free virus scanning for its files, it often doesn’t extend this feature to large files. For this reason, it’s best to take extra care when downloading large files, especially from users you don’t know personally.

4. Google’s History of Changing Privacy Policy

Welcome to Chrome's Privacy Policy Page

Google has a history of changing their privacy policies without notifying users, which can lead to a lot of confusion about what information is shared and who has access to it.

In 2012, Google changed their privacy policy to allow them to share personal user information across all of their services, including Google Drive. This change caused much criticism from users, privacy advocates and governments who felt that Google was not transparent.

In addition, a Google Drive user does not always use the other Google services, so it does not seem fair that they should also have access to their personal data.

While Google has since clarified their privacy policy and says they won’t share personal information without users’ consent, the fact that they’ve made this change primarily shows that they can be sneaky with how they’re consolidating data.

5. Google’s History of Sharing User Data with Governments

When it comes to security, one thing that greatly affects where the company is officially registered. Since Google was founded in the United States, it must follow certain rules in order to operate.

In 2013, it was revealed that Google had provided user data to the National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the NSA’s PRISM program. This revelation sparked a lot of controversy and raised concerns about the privacy and security of Google Drive users. While Google and several other companies denied having any knowledge of the operation, The Guardian confirmed that the classified 41-slide document confirmed that the program was being run with the companies’ assistance.

Since then, Google has made changes to the way it handles user data, but the verdict is not yet known to what extent they can be trusted.

Keep yourself safe when using Google Drive

Still, there are many benefits to having Google Drive in your productivity arsenal. However, the above reasons should be reason enough to be mindful when using it. In addition, it is important to understand that when it comes to staying safe online, you are only as safe as your weakest point of vulnerability.

In addition to being careful when using Google Drive, be careful when connecting to public Internet connections. Make sure to use strong passwords and don’t click on links from unknown senders.

However, if you don’t think the benefits aren’t worth it, you can always remove Google Drive and use alternative file management services instead.

Google Drive logo on laptop sitting in the grass

How to Uninstall and Remove Google Drive from Your PC or Mac

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