Gmail failure highlights risks of web-based e-mail

The latest failure of Google's Gmail web-based e-mail service has highlighted the risk to businesses of using such services.

<a "="" href="https://www.computerweekly.com/news/1280095285/Gmail-bug-hits-150000-users">The latest failure of Google's Gmail web-based e-mail service has highlighted the risk to businesses of using such services.

Up to 160,000 Gmail users are believed to have been affected by a bug in a Gmail storage software upgrade on 27 February, although Google later revised this figure to 40,000.

This represents a business continuity risk with the use of personal e-mail for work purposes becoming increasingly common, says Nathaniel Borenstein, chief scientist for Mimecast and co-creator of the MIME e-mail standard.

"While any system can have an outage, the more heterogeneous systems your employees use, the more often you will be affected by such outages," he says.

Personal web-based e-mail systems also represent an increasing data breach risk, according to Borenstein, with 85% of under-25s admitting they send work-related e-mails or documents to or from personal e-mail accounts, often containing potentially sensitive information.

"The problems experienced by many Gmail users this week typify the potential dangers posed by this behaviour," he says.

Using personal e-mail accounts for work can give employees greater flexibility, but Borenstein says businesses can quickly encounter problems if they allow individuals to send valuable intellectual property outside the secured corporate environment.

"With workers keen to mix and match personal and business technologies to maximise their flexibility and productivity, IT departments need to quickly work out how they can protect corporate IP and ensure compliance in the face of this cultural shift," he says.

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