13 February 2004

Got you by the Googles

Got you by the Googles - World - www.smh.com.au:

By Yuki Noguchi

Internet search engines are increasingly being used to dig up supposedly private information, writes Yuki Noguchi.

Sitting at his laptop, Chris O'Ferrell types a few words into the Google search engine and up pops a link to what appears to be a military document listing suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda members, along with their dates and places of birth, passport numbers and national identification numbers. Another search yields a spreadsheet of names and credit card numbers.

'All search engines will get you this,' O'Ferrell says, pointing to files of spoils he has found on the internet: medical records, bank account numbers, students' grades and the docking locations of 804 US Navy ships, submarines and destroyers.

And it is all legal, using the world's most powerful internet search engine.

Cyber security experts say an increasing number of private or putatively secret documents are online in computers all over the globe, leaving governments, individuals and companies vulnerable. At some websites and message groups, techno-hobbyists are even offering instructions on how to find sensitive documents using a relatively simple search. Though it does not technically trespass, the practice is sometimes called 'Google-hacking'. "

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