I have had a grim reminder about remembering to not only log out of my Google account when using other people’s computers, but to untick the box which says ‘stay signed in’ or ‘keep me logged in as this user on this computer’, or similar.
Months ago i was showing a client around Google Analytics on his computer, as I am a web designer and that is what I do during my pitch. I must have omitted to log out, and on signing in omitted to un-check that box. I have worked all this out in hindsight with some detective work. More on that later.
I use a lot of Google’s tools: – Analytics, Webmaster Tools, AdWords, Docs, – you name it. As a website designer I find them very useful. I also ticked a box a while back agreeing to have my search history recorded. I know full well this infringes on my privacy – but I figure I’ll give back to Google as they give me so much stuff for free. I don’t do anything to be ashamed of in my web surfing, so nothing to lose, right?
Wrong! I checked my surfing history yesterday, for the first time, and was appalled to see searches, nearly every day, for free porn. At first I thought the website that the search turned up (65 visits) had somehow insinuated itself into my search results, and wrote a question to the Google forums. At that stage I thought it was only one porn website that had appeared in the results, I later discovered many more.
The answer I received back was to check that someone else hadn’t been using my Google account, and that’s when I started looking back through all of my search history. I discovered that the free porn searches had started on July 9th – the date of my visit to the particular client. I also found that there was a pattern of searches of subjects that I know I wouldn’t have searched as I’m not in the industry this person is in. It did not take long to put two and two together.
To remedy this I changed my Google password immediately and will change it at regular intervals from now on, and take that client off my Christmas card list. It left me feeling unsettled, as I don’t want my reputation tarnished with porn searches. I also deleted my entire search history as there were way too many instances (6 months worth) of searches to weed them all out page by page. It might be worth your while to check your own search history.