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Data Protection

Google Drive Privacy Flaw Patched

A Google Drive issue that in certain cases exposed the original URLs of shared documents has been fixed by Google, the company announced on Friday.

A Google Drive issue that in certain cases exposed the original URLs of shared documents has been fixed by Google, the company announced on Friday.

According to Google Technical Program Manager Kevin Stadmeyer, the security issues was reported to the company via its Vulnerability Reward Program, and it only affects document files that meet all of the following conditions:

  • The file was uploaded to Google Drive;
  • The file was kept in its original document format and not converted to Docs, Sheets or Slides;
  • The document has been made available to “anyone with the link” by its owner;
  • The content of the document contains a link to a third-party HTTPS website.

If these conditions are met, the administrators of the third-party HTTPS website can view the URL of the original document if a user clicks on the embedded link that points to their site. 

“Today’s update to Drive takes extra precaution by ensuring that newly shared documents with hyperlinks to third-party HTTPS websites will not inadvertently relay the original document’s URL,” Stadmeyer explained in a blog post.

While Google has addressed the issue, previously shared documents that meet the aforementioned criteria are still impacted. Their owners can address the problem by creating a copy of the document and sharing it via a newly generated link. The old document must be deleted once the process is completed, Stadmeyer said.

It’s worth noting that Dropbox fixed a similar privacy issue back in May.  The company initially disabled access completely for previously shared links, but by the end of May it had re-enabled the links not susceptible to the vulnerability.

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Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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