Google to Block Internet for Some Employees

John Lister's picture

Google will stop some of its employees accessing the Internet. It's a bold experiment to see if it can reduce security threats without affecting performance.

The idea is reduce the risk of hackers getting access to employee machines, either to get hold of data on those machines or to use them as an entry point into Google's network. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google's internal data is particularly attractive to attackers, whether they are seeking financial gain, political or commercial advantage, or plain old mischief making.

For example, attackers being able to find out how Google ranks websites or getting a copy of the data it stores on customers could have significant legal and business implications.

Some Google Web Tools Still Work

It appears the experiment will involve desktop computers in Google's offices rather than remote workers. The block on Internet access looks to be software based rather than a physical unplugging. That's because the affected workers will still be able to access some Google-owned services such as Drive and Gmail. While those are both obvious routes for attacks, Google will presumably feel it's done everything reasonable to secure those tools.

Originally Google picked 2,500 workers to take part in the program, around one and a half percent of its workforce. However, it received what was understatedly described as "feedback" from the chosen participants. (Source:

Block Won't Go Company-Wide

It's now allowing some of the selectees to opt out if they genuinely need Internet access to do their job, while also letting volunteers sign up for the test. The test will also involve some users giving up root access on their machines, meaning they can't install software.

Google's security engineering chief Heather Adkins made clear there is no plan to extend the policy to the entirety of the workforce. She said this will be a short test and is simply the latest in a series of experiments designed "to raise the cost of attacks for bad guys."

The company has also confirmed that participants in the experiment will continue to be able to access the Internet through laptops, smartphones and other portable devices. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Could you do your job without Internet access? Will this cause more problems than it solves? Can you see other companies adopting this policy?

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