Keeping your clients and customers info secure

Lots of companies do not keep private information secure. Want some proof? Go to and

  1. Type “customers.xls filetype:xls” and hit enter
  2. When the search results come up, click on “View as HTML” which you will find within more than one of the results

Chances are, you will be looking at what was intended to be a private database of a company’s or organization’s customers. Click around and look at as many of the “View as HTML” pages as you wish. For the results that do not have an HTML view, you can click the blue result title and download or view the XLS file.

Quickly, let me explain the search you performed:

  1. customers.xls is an actual file name you would be looking for. This could be any file name. For example, instead of “customers” try donors or guests or sponsors… you get the idea.
  2. filetype:xls tells Google that you are looking for an Excel file. Again, this could be any file extension like CSV, PDF, MDB, etc.
  3. If you wanted to find a file that also included certain words, just add them to the search: customers.xls filetype:xls phone email maryland

How could this happen that some company would allow their customer list to be public?

Well, easy. Files on a web server are just like files on your computer. On your desktop you might save an “apple pie” recipe in a folder called “recipes.” A well-intentioned webmaster might also try to backup his customer list for safe keeping. He might save it deep within his website in a folder called “company_documents” and the web address might be

But if he does not keep “internal” private and does not make “company_documents” private, then all bets are off.

Google does a great job of finding data on the web. Sometimes they find web pages, spreadsheets, images, etc. that you did not intend to make public. At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to keep these files private, for the safety, respect, wellbeing, and ongoing relationships of your customers.