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Security and privacy for administrators

Two of the most common topics of questions regarding Google in general, and Google Apps specifically, are security and privacy. We take both topics very seriously and offer tools that let you control how we process your data for your organization. Our business is built on our customers' trust: trust in our ability to properly secure their data, our commitment to respect the privacy of the information they place in our systems, and the tools we provide them to keep control over their information.

To learn more about Google's position on reliability, privacy, and security, see How Google handles your data.

If you need to report an abuse issue, learn more about reporting abuse issues to our team.

What does a Google Apps SOC 2/3 audit mean to me as an administrator?

An independent third-party auditor issued Google Apps an unqualified SOC 2/3 audit opinion. Google is proud to provide Google Apps administrators the peace of mind knowing that their data is secure under the SOC 2/3 auditing industry standards. Learn more about the SOC3 public report

The independent third party auditor verified that Google Apps has the following controls and protocols in place:

  • Logical security—Controls provide reasonable assurance that logical access to Google Apps production systems and data is restricted to authorized individuals
  • Privacy—Controls provide reasonable assurance that Google has implemented policies and procedures addressing the privacy of customer data related to Google Apps
  • Data center physical security—Controls provide reasonable assurance that data centers that house Google Apps data and corporate offices are protected
  • Incident management and availability—Controls provide reasonable assurance that Google Apps systems are redundant and incidents are properly reported, responded to, and recorded
  • Change management—Controls provide reasonable assurance that development of and changes to Google Apps undergo testing and independent code review prior to release into production
  • Organization and administration—Controls provide reasonable assurance that management provides the infrastructure and mechanisms to track and communicate initiatives within the company that impact Google Apps
Can my organization use our own authentication system to provide user access to Google Apps?
We make it easy to use Google account security by giving employees secure Single Sign-on (SSO) access to a wide set of Software as a Service (SaaS) and custom-built apps on desktop and mobile devices. Our OpenID Connect (OIDC) Identity Provider (IdP) support can be used with many SaaS apps in the Google Apps Marketplace, and has support for Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) 2.0 for more than 15 popular SaaS providers. We’re also making it easy for admins to add new custom SAML app integrations. Organizations can do the integration themselves, or work with a Google partner to accomplish this.
How are Google passwords generated for Google Apps user accounts?

To generate passwords for new user accounts, Google uses a mixed pattern of symbols, upper and lower case letters, and numbers. The length of the password will be the greater of the required minimum (8), or the minimum password length you've set for your domain.

An administrator/end-user deleted a number of email messages, how can I recover them?

Once an administrator or end-user has deleted any data in Google Apps, we delete it according to your Customer Agreement and our Privacy Policy.

Data is irretrievable once an administrator deletes a user account. See the Help Center for best practices for deleting users.

If you need to recover email messages, Google offers additional archiving products that can complement Google Apps for Work, Government and Education editions. For non-email data recovery solutions, please consult the Google Apps Marketplace where one of our partners may have a solution suitable for your needs.

Phishing prevention

Spammers can sometimes forge the “From” address on an email message so that it appears to come from a reputable organization’s domain. Known as phishing, this practice is often an attempt to collect sensitive data. To help prevent phishing, Google participates in the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) program, which lets domain owners tell email providers how to handle unauthenticated messages from their domain. Google Apps customers can implement DMARC by creating a DMARC record within their administrator settings and implementing an SPF record and DKIM keys on all outbound mail streams.

How does Google respond to users in my domain who are sending spam?

In accordance with the Google Apps Acceptable Use Policy:

  • If Google identifies a Google Apps email user who is spamming, we reserve the right to immediately suspend the user.
  • If the spam is domain-wide, we reserve the right to suspend the entire account and deny administrator access to all the Google Apps services.
Which of my users can gain access to my Google Apps administrative account?

Only the owner and managers of the domain name can create a Google Apps administrative account. Upon signing up, a Google Apps administrator is asked to verify control of the domain by making a change to the Domain Name System (DNS) records. Without this verification, Google does not allow an administrative account to be opened. None of the Google services can be actively managed for a domain until domain ownership is verified.

After an administrator has verified ownership, other usernames in the account may be granted administrative privileges at the discretion of any administrator.

Non-administrative users on the domain may also contact the Google Apps Support team to request administrative access. The normal domain verification process ensures that the requestor has domain management rights.

Lastly, any individual who has access to your registered secondary email address can initiate a password reset and access the primary administrator account.

Which of my users can gain access to other users' accounts?

Per your domain’s Customer Agreement, Google Apps administrators for a domain can access all user accounts and the associated data, as described in our Privacy Policy.

As a domain administrator, you have control of all usernames and passwords within your domain. You can access your users' accounts in conformity with the Customer Agreement. However, we do require that you have a policy about such actions that is published to your users.

We will notify the registered secondary email address of any spam violations.

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