OutsourcingProjects

Google Staff Data Is Exposed After Email Mishap

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Outsourcing privacy slip as third party vendor reveals personal data belonging to Google employees

Staff at Google have had their personal details exposed after another vendor accidentally leaked their data in an email mishap, highlighting data privacy concerns when confidential data is outsourced to a third party.

The idenity of the “third party vendor” in question is not known, nor has the number of impacted Google staff been disclosed.

What we do know is that Google alerted its staff to the data breach on Monday after an email containing the sensitive information was sent from the unnamed company, to another company. Google posted a copy of the staff letter on the Californian Attorney General’s website.

Email Mishap

cloud“We recently learned that a third-party vendor that provides Google with benefits management services mistakenly sent a document containing certain personal information of some of our Googlers to a benefits manager at another company,” Teri Wisness, Google’s director of US Benefits said in the letter.

“Promptly upon viewing the document, the benefits manager deleted it and notified Google’s vendor of the issue. After the vendor informed us of the issue, we conducted an investigation to determine the facts.”

Personal data that has been leaked includes Google staff names and social security numbers.

Thankfully, Google said that no other information about its staff or their benefits was leaked, and neither was any information regarding dependants or family members of Google staff.

“We have no evidence that any of your information has been misused as a result of this incident, and computer access logs indicate that no other individuals viewed your information before it was deleted,” added Wisness. “In addition, the benefits manager has confirmed that she did not save, download, disclose or otherwise use the information contained in the document.”

Wisness said Google regretted that incident had occurred, and is “working with the vendor to help ensure that this type of issue does not happen again.”

Google staff were offered two years of free identity protection and credit monitoring services and also sent a federal reference guide with more advice and were told where they could access free credit reports.

Outsourcing Privacy?

The Google incident reveals the potential safeguarding headaches for companies when they opt to outsource internal processes that utilise sensitive data.

Companies of course can take steps to protect their data internally, but data can be compromised when a third party vendor is involved. Many experts recommend detailing the data safeguarding requirements in the contract or service level agreement (SLA).

Tripwire earlier this year revealed the top five data privacy mistakes businesses make. Mistakes include failure to encrypt the data, not securing access paths, and not monitoring or controlling simple misconfigurations.

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