Google has been under fire from privacy advocates, and governments from all over the world for capturing data off of private, unsecured wireless networks via their Google Maps-mobiles.
Basically, as these cars were driving around shooting photos of roadways for Google Maps, they were also scanning wireless network channels, and pulling packets of data from unsecured networks.
This means that they were pulling data on live user activity (stuff people were doing online as the Maps-mobile was driving by), they were NOT pulling files and data off of hard drives. The distinction is important.
Google hired an independent company to review the code that was capturing this data, and their conclusions are damning.
According to the analysis, the code was complex enough that it wasn’t the work of one engineer, and it was systematic in it’s attempts to gain access to wireless networks. This suggests either ill-intent, or negligent management… Both are bad.
If Google did this deliberately, it is an evil act.
If Google’s management was asleep at the wheel, and some engineers did this on their own, it begs the question, “What else are their engineers doing unsupervised.”
Whatever the root cause, this is uncool.
The lesson here folks…
Secure your wireless networks. If your network doesn’t have a strong password, you are putting yourself at risk for far more serious problems than Google yanking a few packets off of your network.
Practice safe computer.
Story found via The Register.