Google said on Monday morning the company was experiencing some issues with Google Drive and Google Docs.
Problems started around 9:36 a.m. ET and have affected users in the US, UK, and China, as well as several other countries.
While it is unknown how many users have been impacted, over 5,000 Google users reported issues with Google Drive on Monday morning, according to DownDetector. The company said it is in the process of investigating issues with the products.
“Hi there. We are aware of a service disruption and are working right now to resolve it,” @googledrive tweeted. “We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience. Stay updated by following the Apps Status Dashboard: http://goo.gl/NOZTZ. Thanks!”
Google Drive is quickly becoming the most popular storage service around. And with more than a billion users and over 2 trillion files saved, it needs to be secure.
But Google users have been victim to hacks before – in 2014, approximately 5 million Gmail usernames and passwords were stolen and leaked online.
So if you use Google Drive, you might be wondering how secure your files really are.
How Google Drive secures your files and data
Regardless of previous hacks, the risk of using Google Drive is low. Google uses the strong 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption on all its Google Drive servers (with the exception of a small number of storage devices that date prior to 2015 – those use AES128 encryption instead).
Likewise, when the data is in transit between users and Google Drive servers, Google uses the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol to protect the data and prevent interception.
In short: your data is largely secure.
How Google Drive may be vulnerable
Some security experts don’t love that Google keeps encryption keys for all the files on Google Drive. Encryption keys are tools that let Google (or whoever has the keys) decrypt files, bypassing all their security.
“Because they are in control of these encryption keys, it can lead to vulnerabilities for its users,” said Kristen Bolig, founder at SecurityNerd. “They have the power to decrypt files which can make them easier for hackers.”
This is in contrast to apps like Signal, where not even the company that runs the app can access your data.
Moreover, Google is subject to governments and law enforcement. “If your files are subpoenaed, depending on what Google decides, it might not take a security breach to forfeit your privacy,” said Monica Eaton-Cardone, chief operating officer of Chargebacks911.
And as is often the case with cloud services, the most significant risks aren’t related to the encrypted infrastructure, but with the user, and Google Drive has a number of user-related vulnerabilities.
Google Drive lacks cohesive organizational permissions, for example. Nick Santora, CEO of Curricula, said, “The way Dropbox uses folders allows us to segment data by department and only give employees in that department access to those folders. Google makes this extremely difficult to do. Everything you do is a one-off. The permissions system is ad hoc, which leads to mistakes.”
How to protect yourself as a Google Drive user
The biggest risk to your Google Drive data is often you – along with the computers or devices you’ve connected to Google Drive. Remember that in general, any files on Google Drive get synchronized to your computer, so those files are vulnerable. “You can use encryption to further hide and protect your files,” Bolig suggested.
Security.org editor Gabe Turner said it’s important to “remove any apps or browser extensions that have access to Google Drive unnecessarily.” Every app with permission to access Google Drive is another vector for hackers and a security vulnerability.
Write enough academic papers and you learn to love footnotes.
They can provide useful context and allow you to show your work, giving the reader access to, and an idea of, all the hours you spent researching and synthesizing complex information.
But you don’t have to be an academic to use footnotes. In general, the most useful footnotes provide not just a notation about where the information in the text came from, but also gives a link for quick access.
If you use Google Docs, footnotes are a built-in feature you can take advantage of right away. Here’s how to add them to any document, whether you’re on the web or using the Google Docs mobile app.
How to add footnotes in Google Docs
1. Click your cursor at the point in the document where you want to add a footnote (this way, a notation will automatically be added to the correct spot).
2. In the toolbar at the top of the document, select “Insert” and then “Footnote.” Alternatively, you can use the shortcut Control-Alt-F on PC, or Command-Option-F on Mac.
3. The document will automatically add a superscript number to where you placed the cursor, and a footnote notation at the bottom of the page, along with a line of delineation.
4. Type out your footnote in the space provided. Format the footnote in the citation style of your choice.
How to add footnotes in Google Docs using the mobile app
If you’re using the Google Docs mobile app for Android or iOS, adding footnotes is just as easy as it is on the web.
1. Open the document and tap the cursor where you want the footnote. 2. Tap the plus symbol at the top of your screen to open the Insert menu. 3. Scroll down and click “Footnote.” 4. The app will bring you to the bottom of the page, where you can type your footnote text.