I find this slightly amusing – looking over my Google Analytics for this blog, I ran across someone who’d typed into Google the keyword phrase, “writing a memo to employees advising them of a merge”. That’s not all that surprising since I’ve been writing about a theoretical merger between AT&T, SuperMedia, and Dex One yellow pages companies.
But, the phrase caught my attention, because it looked like the sort of query someone inside a corporation might search upon while doing research on how to announce a merger to their employees. Could this reveal imminent merger announcement from those companies I’d been writing about?
So, I clicked to see the network of the person who came to my blog on that phrase, but instead of a YP company insider, I found the network name was for “sudbury hydro communication services”.
That network appears to belong to the Greater Sudbury Hydro Inc company, located in Canada. I’d conjecture that Greater Sudbury Hydro may be planning to merge with some other company, and one of their public affairs people might be preparing a memo to announce it to their employees. While they were hoping to find suggestions or templates for that sort of an announcement, they may have accidentally revealed their business’s intentions.
The real takeaway from this is that if your network address plus query phrase combination might reveal some sort of sensitive information, you should take some pains to obscure that information. For instance, if they’d right-clicked on the link to my blog page when opening it from the search results, it would’ve broken the connection between their search for “writing a memo to employees advising them of a merge” and their visit to my blog page, and I would not’ve known what search query brought them here.
There are various anonymization services to help obscure this kind of thing, too, such as online proxy browsers that would keep websites from seeing your IP address. Google’s Chrome browser also provides an “Incognito Window” that can help with safeguarding your browsing information, too.