Although initially thought of as just hard drives in the cloud, cloud storage quickly became a way for people to share files. Unlike physical storage, however, there’s a greater need for security with files stored and shared from the cloud. It is for that reason that Google is introducing an update to Google Drive that fundamentally changes the way file-sharing links work. Unfortunately, that change may also cause many public links to be broken unless their owners do something to update those.
Google doesn’t go into much technical detail on what the security update will be about. It simply talks about adding a resource key to sharing links, a common practice already implemented by many file or even video sharing services. Better late than never, as they say, but both administrators and end users will have some work to do if they want to make sure their links remain usable.
To be clear, those who have already viewed the file from the link don’t need to do anything and won’t need the resource key to access the file after the update takes effect. Those that haven’t will need that key, though, and it will be up to the Google Drive owners to make sure they’ve given out the correct, new links for the files.
G Suite and Google Workspace admins will have to determine before July 23 how their organization will implement the security update. End users, including those with personal Google Drive accounts, will receive notifications starting July 26 informing them of affected files. Depending on the situation, they may be able to remove the security update, which means that old, unsecured links will continue working. At the owner’s own risk, of course.
On September 13, the new security policies will take effect and what admins or users have changed will remain in place after that date. This change affects all Google Drive users, even those with personal accounts, so those with important public sharing links will want to take note of the email they will receive next month.