Today, CNBC reported that Google is launching a pilot program in which some employees will be assigned internet-free desktop PCs to reduce the risk of cyber attacks on the company.
With the exception of internal web-based tools and Google-owned sites like Gmail and Google Drive, internet access will be disabled. Those who need internet access for their work will receive exceptions. Additionally, some employees won’t have root (administrator) access on their PCs, meaning they will not be able to install software or change system configurations.
The program aims to protect the company against attacks. Taek Pietraszek, Google’s principal software engineer for user account security, said on the company’s safety blog that “hundreds of cyber attacks are launched every day.” These attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, he said.
Twenty-five hundred employees were selected for this pilot, but after initial feedback, Google has given participants the option to opt out. Google employees are also welcome to volunteer to join.
“Ensuring the safety of our products and users is one of our top priorities,” a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We routinely explore ways to strengthen our internal systems against malicious attacks.”
This new security initiative comes on the heels of Google’s preparation for a company-wide rollout of several artificial intelligence tools, including its large language model, PaLM 2.