Google today announced a “Security update” for Drive to “make file sharing more secure.” This is part of a broader company-wide change that also affects YouTube and will impact the productivity app on September 13, 2021.

Update 7/28: Google this week started alerting personal Gmail and enterprise Workspace accounts about the upcoming change. A link at the bottom of this email takes you to Google Drive to see a list of “Impacted files” that have already had the security update “Applied.”

Selecting them will let you “Remove” the longer URL and ensure that the level of access does not change. However, Google discourages this and only recommends taking that action on files that are intended to be viewed by a wide (and new) public audience. As a reminder, people that have already opened a shared file will not lose access.


Original 7/23: At a high level, this “update will change the links used for some files.” It could lead you (and others) to request file access again, though there are no changes to files that you have previously already viewed/opened.

Behind-the-scenes, the URL to files shared in Google Drive is getting slightly longer with “resourcekey” followed by a string of alphanumeric characters and symbols added to the end.

The update will add a resource key to sharing links. Once the update has been applied to a file, users who haven’t viewed the file before will have to use a URL containing the resource key to gain access, and those who have viewed the file before or have direct access will not need the resource key to access the file.

Those with free personal accounts will have the option to “remove” this Google Drive security update. However, the company cautions against that and says this “should only be considered for files that are posted publicly.”

Starting in late July, Google will warn users with free accounts through an email that links to a list of “files with security update” and the removal process. They will have until September 13, 2021, to “determine how the update is applied to their files,” as that’s when the security measure goes into effect.

Meanwhile, Google Workspace admins will have more control over how this update is applied to an organization. They have to decide by July 23, while affected Workspace end users will start getting notified three days later before it takes place in September.

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