I would venture that it has not been the best period for Google. As Google Apps users move to a more unified service with more features, offerings and numerous 3rd party applications this should have been a great start.
Google seem to be reacting to the new competition that Office 365 brings which is a very positive move for them so it must have been a devastating blow when news of Chinese attacks on Google Apps for Government hit the headlines.
As the US moves for legislation to make Cyber attacks an act of war, this puts Google all over the press and not for the best of reasons. Now, it has been said that there is no such thing as bad press as it is all exposure. However, Google produced this product exclusively for use by US Government Departments – guaranteeing that data would be held within the US, a promise which is not available to anybody else.
The Government officials who merrily came back with a negotiated deal must now be holding their heads in their hands when it is precisely the low cost service designed for them by Google which has now hit the headlines and surely brought them under fire from some quaters. The attack is said to use “spear phishing” in which specific users are tricked into presenting their username and password to a mock Google web page and then set up forwarding for that account to another address allowing them to monitor users emails.
Of course this has been blamed directly on the Chinese government but it has got to be very difficult to prove such allegations as such attacks could conciveably be carried out by individuals – would the ‘attack’ carried out by Gary McKinnon be considered an act of war under the new US protocols?
Perhaps the most worrying fact about all though is that the US Government seem not to of had additional security in place which could of prevented such data theft. There surely should be extra layers of security in place to prevent this from being possible – and there are many available.
Perhaps then this isn’t such a straight forward issue for Google but for high level advisors who should be protecting such information more astutely. There are many additional security layers which can be applied and after the whole Gary McKinnon affair, perhaps the US Government should be more concerned about protecting their data than blaming other Governments without solid proof.