Hazards of moving online

April 9, 2007

I’ve repeatedly recommended moving online, showcasing various web services that allow you to do online what you normally would do off-line (i.e., wordprocessing, emails, or doing your taxes). Well, two pieces of news today show that moving online isn’t without its security risks …

Google logoFirst, Google apparently has de-activated several users’ Gmail email accounts due to spamming concerns (although these users’ accounts were apparently legit) — and it has now been several days and these users’ email accounts have not been re-activated despite repeated requests. These users cannot access their emails nor stored files. I had recommended Gmail as an online email solution. I still do — I know that millions of people have Gmail accounts, and it’s hard to prevent errors from happening to handfuls of users at any given moment. Still …

Turbotax logoSecond, Turbotax (the online version, not the software that you can install on your computer) recently had a security lapse that allowed a customer to view tax returns of other people with the same last name (but different first names). No explanation on how this lapse happened, but Turbotax announced it has already taken steps to fix this problem. Apparently this only happened once, or at least only one customer was honest enough to come forward to inform Turbotax of this. I had also recommended Turbotax as an online tax prep solution, and this lapse gives me pause. However, I commend Turbotax for quickly fixing this AND announcing this lapse as well.

Note: I use both Gmail and Turbotax — the latter for the past several years, the former on a daily (nay, minute-to-minute!) basis. So, I’ve got a lot riding on both web services. Behave, willya?

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