Over the time of our work in the field of Plagiarism Detection we have answered a lot of questions like "Are our documents stored elsewhere?". The answer is always the same: Your documents don't leave your computer during Plagiarism Detector checks.
But not so long ago a user started a more general discussion about the safety of such products in general. Safety for Your Documents, for sure.
With a permission from that kind person, I will publish our conversation here (with little edition). It may be useful for those worried about the problem.
I have a question regarding this software..
If I make a test with my documents to test against plagiarism? Why my documents and my scientific works must remain on the server online
stored? This software must be 100 % confidential. No need to upload my scientific works on the server and stay there permanently.
No checked documents leave your computer when searching for plagiarism (except for fragments used for a search itself), nor do we have any database at our side with users' documents. Thus your documents are confidential.
You may have misunderstood PDAS software description. But PDAS is a software that a client can use to store documents in his own database and check against them. It is not used for Plagiarism Detector Internet check.
That's why I asked because has hovered the suspicion that these softwares for against plagiarism take us the documents which we scan with these softwares against plagiarism and you receive and publish them before us and upload them on the internet.. It is not good with our work.
On many websites people complains regarding this thing. And many do not want to scan for against plagiarism for this reason, because they worked in vain and software developers receive all scanned documents and they publish them or upload on the websites.
It is intellectual theft.
We didn't do any research on the way our competitors work, but we can assure you that no documents leave your computer during check with Plagiarism Detector.
The thing you are worried about would seem rather counter-productive for any service that takes care of its clients. Thus the first risk-factor I would predict is "free of charge". Meaning that I wouldn't trust any plagiarism-check service that is free to all. As a question stands: "what's their interest then?".
But for any serious and well-established service a revenue lost from unsatisfied customers leaving (and making bad PR) would be of more importance then their documents. At least I believe so.
Once again: with our software no documents leave your computer to be stored elsewhere.
As you have raised a serious problem, I kindly ask your permission to publish this conversation (text only, no names) on our forums, as it may be of interest for other people.
I raised this issue because, as I said, has hovered the suspicion that these kind of softwares of against plagiarism steal our PC documents, scientific works etc, when when we add in the software the document and check and scan the document.
And now, I don't just mean just at this software Plagiarism Detector. Generally this kind of software that checks if the document is plagiarized or not, people worryes, that their work would be compromised in vain due of intelectual thieft, ie, the thieft of the software..
Yes, you can use these phrases and put on the application's forum, but without my name or my e-mail. Thank you in advance!
Well, I totally understand your concerns. So let me analyze the risks from my experience.
In addition to the already mentioned "free cheese can be a mouse-trap":
1. Software installed at your computer is more secure then some Internet-site, providing the check service. All the following is said about an installed software, since noone knows what happens server-side.
2. Having a certain skills, you can check what data leaves you computer during the check. I can't go into the detail of the algorithms we use, but to my knowledge one cannot reproduce the document with those search-requests generated by our software. Besides, any traffic-analysis will show the requests are going to different places (since several search-engines are used), thus separating the fragments even more. If such analysis shows a whole document uploaded somewhere in one piece - it doesn't look secure.
3. Easier way: if a software is observed to heavily-load the CPU - it is working on your side. If the CPU is not loaded - the software is either not so good, or the document is uploaded to some server and is checked there. Evidently, less secure.
4. Additional data. You can always check the Internet for third-party sites mentioning the software you are interested about. The more "serious business" it looks - the more secure it is likely to be. As I have said before - one is unlikely to risk his profits from a well-established business with stealing clients' intellectual property. But if the site looks like a home-work of post-graduate student and noone has ever heard of this product before - well, use it at your own risk.
Besides, I have just consulted our RnD about this and they did provide some additions from their perspective:
1. It is rather unlikely that clients' works are stolen for their scientific value. More likely as a part of regular process of filling the database that documents are checked against. For a widely-used service it looks impossible to analyze all the incoming documents for scientific value.
2. Indeed, some services do store all the documents that are checked with them (we don't see it right to mention them). You can follow the above mentioned list of criteria to reduce the chance to use such a service. Even if the service stores clients' documents, there are two options: documents are stored for the service internal use only (later documents are checked against old ones) or documents are later indexed by search engines, which is indeed a serious threat, as you document becomes publicly available.
3. Someone interested in a detailed research in the field can make a set of "trap-documents" that are 100% original and check them with different services. Then in about 1.5 month repeat the same. If a document remains 100% with the same service - no documents are stored. If it is found plagiarized by the same service, but none of the others - documents are stored in the internal database. But if different services start finding plagiarism in a clean document that was checked with once service only - those services are just mirrors of a singe document-storing server or the document became publicly available.
We hope you find this information useful.