Behind Microsoft’s Docs.com problem

Microsoft is taking a lot of heat over their Docs.com and the leaking of private information.  Redmond isn’t entirely to blame, though they could have handled the issue much, much better.  Office Watch explains the problem and what to do about it.

Private information on docs.com like credit card details, health records were and are still available to anyone searching the Microsoft site.

Docs.com is a document sharing site that’s quite different from OneDrive but the difference wasn’t well explained.

It’s meant as a place to release documents to a wide range of people.  Documents on docs.com can be searched within docs.com and also global search engines like Google and Bing.

Docs.com defaults to public access to any documents you save there.

Microsoft’s fault lies in not clearly showing people that the docs.com documents are publicly visible.  ‘softies will be surprised to hear that because it seems to Redmond staff that the visibility of docs.com files is clear.  But it’s not, especially after the document is saved.  Here’s the standard view of a document saved to docs.com as seen today.

There’s NOTHING to show the access or visibility of the document.  Not even an obscure icon.

Adding fuel to the fire

Microsoft’s response to the problem has been remarkably poor and incomplete.  It’s considered a PR problem not an actual problem that needs fixing.

Microsoft seems to feel that customers are entirely to blame and the company has no responsibility (and legally they don’t, because their terms and conditions protect Microsoft, not customers).

The first reaction was to remove the search box from the docs.com web site.  That did nothing to fix the issue but merely served as a stopgap measure and PR talking point.

The documents were still visible via search engines including Microsoft’s own Bing service.

The docs.com search box has now returned.  Microsoft thinks that the problem will magically go away with a few PR platitudes.

What should have been done:

  • A better, clearer, indication that a document is publicly shared. As you can see, there’s no obvious indication that a document is publicly visible.
  • Email all docs.com users suggesting they check the visibility of all documents on the site. Either limit or remove any documents that should not be public.

 

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