If you use Google Workspace, you should be aware of its latest Drive update which aims to plug potential leaks in file sharing and enhance data privacy.

Introduced in mid-September, the update addresses a longstanding issue concerning who can view and edit files in a user’s Google shared drive.

It may not apply to all of your company’s files, and it probably won’t disrupt your existing workflow too much, but it’s helpful to be aware of the changes and what they’ll mean for content sharing down the line.

More secure internal and external file sharing

Prior to the update, there were two ways to share a file on Drive. You could add an existing Google account (giving specific team members individual access) or you could hit ‘get link’ and have a shareable URL to send to others as needed.

The latter was essentially a way to make the link public to specific people, without broadcasting it far and wide. Sure, anyone could view the file, but they’d have to have the link and permission to do so.

While convenient, occupying this middle ground between private and public wasn’t exactly secure – this method was easy to infiltrate if someone had the link. They could request access, and a non-security savvy person could have given it to them. 

That’s why Google has tightened up on its content, closing this backdoor so files remain off-limits to unauthorized users.

How? By making those shareable links much harder to hack. Google will now add a ‘resource key’ to shared URLs, adding an additional layer of security.

What this means for your organisation

Not all files are affected by the latest update, which automatically came into effect on September 13. The update applies to all Google Workspace accounts, including both Basic and Business clients.

If you’re the admin for your account, you can see which files are affected by visiting the Alert Center. You can also head over to your Google Drive and type ‘is:security_update_applied’ or ‘is:security_update_removed’ in the search bar.

Once the update is in place, anyone trying to access the file via the old link will be out of luck – you’ll need to send them the new URL (with ‘resourcekey’ in the address) if you want them to continue viewing and sharing it.

Account-based sharing is unaffected. If you shared the link in the past by adding specific user accounts to the file, those users can continue to view the file as normal – their accessibility privileges remain even as the link is updated.

If you’re running into issues updating Google Drive, or need help with any aspect of Google’s Workspace, ion8 is here for your business. We’re a longstanding Google Partner, and our highly experienced team has helped hundreds of clients roll out Google Workspace and integrate it with other software solutions. Get in touch today.