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Google in the Enterprise Benefits from Google+ Consumer Security Issue

Google revealed this week that a bug in the Google+ APIs, discovered and patched back in March of this year, gave third-party apps access to user information that was not available publicly for sharing. The company shut down the consumer version of Google+ -- but there's a twist for enterprise users. Also: information about Microsoft 365 security and deployment.

Google+ is going to be the benefactor of a renewed focus on enterprise collaboration. Google has decided to shut down the consumer version of its attempt at social networking, but will redirect its attention to Google+ as an enterprise service.

That decision comes after an internal review process, Project Strobe, which reviewed third-party developer access to Google accounts and Android device data. The company discovered, back in March 2018, that a bug in the Google+ People APIs was giving developers access to other profile data that was shared with the user but not made public.

Google said they patched this bug immediately when it was discovered but they cannot verify which users were impacted because the API data logs are only kept for two weeks. Since they did have two weeks worth of data when the bug was discovered and patched, they analyzed that information and thus are willing to estimate that upwards of 500,000 Google+ accounts were potentially affected.

They also added that no evidence was discovered that developers were aware of the bug or abusing it to collect additional information. It is unclear how Google can surmise developer behavior across several months off only two weeks of API logs.

As a result of this data breach plus the cost and manpower of creating and maintaining a social media service with low user engagement, Google has decided to shut down Google+ for consumers. The process will take approximately 10 months, with August of 2019 being the target for the service to completely shut down.

This is the point in the disclosure process that we learn Google in the enterprise is going to continue forward and get some renewed attention as an enterprise tool/service.

At the same time, we have many enterprise customers who are finding great value in using Google+ within their companies. Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network. Enterprise customers can set common access rules, and use central controls, for their entire organization. We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses. We will share more information in the coming days.

This additional information was made public a few days later and summarizes where Google in the enterprise is going to gain starting in 2019 compared to its canceled consumer counterpart:

  • Giving admins more manageability
  • Tagging for cross-organizational discover and conversations
  • Getting the pulse of an organization by seeing/learning about the flow of ideas and high-level concepts from executives

If you have heard of the Microsoft Graph, then these concepts are very familiar.

Fare thee well, Google+, in both of your new journeys!


Microsoft 365 Security folks are in the midst of an eight blog series that focuses on deploying intelligent security scenarios in your organization. This month they focusing on collaborating securely. If your organization is new to Microsoft 365, this series is a great primer to key aspects of the service. Taking a closer look at security is important because that area is so important these days to companies large and small.

So far they have covered these other subjects:

Speaking of Microsoft 365, deploying the service within your organization can be a challenging task. However, the Microsoft 365 Enterprise Deployment Guide will assist you in preparing and executing on an organizational deployment when you are ready to move forward. It not only includes best practices and other resources but it also gives real-world customer based scenarios so you can learn from these successful deployments.

Microsoft announced a beta program to help businesses manage their branding across Microsoft's various products and verify their identity for potential customers. Microsoft Business Profile allows you to verify your business, manage your profile and control how it appears in searches by customers. You can get started by signing up for the beta at no cost.

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