This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Is Gmail dangerous?

To date Gmail is offering 7530+ MB of free storage space.  Of course thats nothing new and is a welcome relief to those who have used e-mail services in the past which restrict your storage.

However those restrictive e-mail services have one advantage that Gmail cannot possibly hope to offer; security by forced removal of data

Don't get me wrong, I'm an avid Gmail fan and love being able to search back through the months to find past communications. My gripe is that information is needlessly kept not for a set time but essentially forever.

"Great" some people might think, now I'll never lose anything and it will always be there for me again if I need it, but take a moment to think of it this way:

Almost every single part of your online identity - for the whole of the time you've been online - is usually contained within e-mails.  Thats right, those websites that e-mail you your password after registration, receipts from purchases and even notifications from social networking sites you're subscribed to (to name a few).

Not only that, but because users collect Usernames and Passwords like Pokemon, and all those are collected under your e-mail providers password, you're essentially keeping all your eggs in one big persistent security basket.

This opens a whole world of security problems such as detailed in Jeff Atwood's recent post. The best way to ensure information is secure, is to remove it.  Simple!  But without enforcing this, how many users will actually do it?

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