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Mysterious ‘security update’ to Google Drive cloud storage locker will break links to some files

Admins given a whole month to sort it out. Choose wisely — after July 23rd, users won't be told what's happening

Google has advised administrators of its Workspace productivity suite that it’s set to improve security of its Drive cloud storage locker, but that the fix will break links to some files.

The ad giant’s advisory to Workspace admins doesn’t mention the reason for the update, other than saying it’s an enhancement.

The little detail offered states that the update “changes the URLs for some Google Drive files and folders. The new links include a resource key in a file’s URL.”

“Access to impacted files won’t change for people who have already viewed them or who have direct access, but others might need to request access.”

And as Drive is used to share files far and wide, that could mean pain for users.

Admins have been given until July 23 to choose from three options:

  • Apply the security update with no option for users to remove it — The default for EDU, this option applies the update to all impacted files in your organization.
  • Apply the security update, but users can remove it for specific files — The default for non-EDU, this option applies the update to all impacted files in your organization.
  • Remove security update (not recommended) — Links to your files remain the same. There’s no option to remove the security update from folders.

Brace for some inquiries, dear readers, as Google advises that if you choose to apply the update, users will be notified starting July 26, 2021. If you pick the default option of applying the change, users will have until August 25, 2021, to remove the update from impacted files.

If the result of that is grumpy users, you can still change your choice after July 23. However, Drive won’t notify your users of your changes.

Which sounds like fun waiting to happen.

Google says the update will be rolled out by September 13th, 2021 — 81 days downstream from its notification to admins. Which is at least more than the 31 days Google gave Workspace admins between the announcement and the deadline to act. ®

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