From AP: If Google Desktop Search is installed on computers at libraries and Internet cafes, users could unwittingly allow people who follow them on the PCs, for example, to see sensitive information in e-mails they've exchanged. That could mean revealed passwords, conversations with doctors, or viewed Web pages detailing on-line purchases.
It automatically records e-mail you read through Outlook, Outlook Express or the Internet Explorer browser. It also saves copies of Web pages you view through IE and chat conversations using America On-line Inc.'s instant-messaging software. And it finds Word, Excel and PowerPoint files stored on the computer.
Type in "hotmail.com" and you'll get copies, or stored caches, of messages that previous users have seen. Enter an e-mail address and you can read all the messages sent to and from that address. Type "password" and get password reminders that were sent back via e-mail.
At home, users could record their kids' instant messaging conversations or view a spouse's e-mail. In the office, employers could index what their workers are up to.
The software can also betray users. Delete an e-mail or file, yet a copy remains on Google's index.
Look for Telltale Signs
A multicoloured swirl in the system tray at the lower right corner of the computer desktop means the software is running. A user can right-click on that to exit the program — thereby preventing it from recording Web surfing, e-mail and chat sessions.
If each user has a separate logon to Windows, Google Desktop Search will be stymied, however. That's because only one person can install and use the software on a given computer.
The FedEx Kinko's chain is also taking preventive measures. It's deploying software designed to automatically refresh its public access terminals to a virgin state for each new customer.
ralphg adds: "Save sensitive documents encrypted. For example, the Atlantis word processor can save documents with very strong encryption. which prevents scanning."