In brief: Russian search engine Yandex claims that it has been indexing private files from Google Docs, but the American firm says everything is a-okay. The alleged documents have not been validated, but Yandex stopped indexing Google Docs completely until the matter gets sorted out.
On Wednesday Yandex, Russia’s leading search engine notified Google about a potential data breach after its users reported finding dozens of what appeared to be private documents turning up in searches.
According to the Associated Press, Yandex spokesman Ilya Grabovsky said users were reporting that they were finding Google Docs files in arbitrary searches. The documents, which included an internal memo from a Russian bank, press summaries, and business plans, started flooding social media platforms in the country. The authenticity of the documents is so far unconfirmed.
“Yandex search only yields files that don't require logins or passwords,” Grabovsky said. Adding that the files were turning up in other search engines as well but not naming any specifically.
Within hours of the first reports, Yandex stopped producing links to Google Docs altogether and notified Google.
“Google Documents is a highly protected tool for joint work and it is working correctly.”
After a brief investigation, Google released a statement Thursday claiming that everything was functioning properly.
“Saving and protecting users’ personal data is our main priority,” the search giant said. “Google Documents is a highly protected tool for joint work and it is working correctly.”
The company explains that search engines can only index documents that have been "deliberately made public" by the authors. Users must make a conscious decision to open a file to indexing. It sees no issues with the way Docs is working internally, and all data should be private by default.
In other words, as far as Google can tell, there has been no breach of the Documents servers. Any files originating from there are either deliberate have otherwise been initiated from the client side.