Threat Level: green Handler on Duty: Brad Duncan

SANS ISC: Google Acknowledges Grabbing Personal Data - SANS Internet Storm Center SANS ISC InfoSec Forums

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Google Acknowledges Grabbing Personal Data

It appears that Google, Inc has had a lapse in judgment for the last 4 years and has been scooping up snippets of personal data from open WiFi networks.  Google has acknowledged that they have indeed done the captures.  Google has issued a public apology and state that none of the information has made it to their search engines or other services.  According to the article:

"Google characterized its collection of snippets from e-mails and Web surfing done on public Wi-Fi networks as a mistake, and said it has taken steps to avoid a recurrence. About 600 gigabytes of data was taken off of the Wi-Fi networks in more than 30 countries, including the U.S. Google plans to delete it all as soon as it gains clearance from government authorities."

It looks like Google, Inc has some explaining to do.

Deb Hale Long Lines, LLC


279 Posts
ISC Handler
May 15th 2010
A bad move for Google, but perhaps a good move for security awareness. The threat of wardriving is little known to less technical users, but this is making major media. Perhaps it will encourage a few more people to configure security on their own wireless networks, or seek out assistance in doing so.

48 Posts
It sounds like what something like Kismet or aerodump-ng would do by default; as well as the csv/xml lists of scanned networks, these tools also dump any captured packets. I believe Google's stated intent was to locate wireless access points so that a non--GPS-enabled device could phone home to Google with a list of BSSIDs within range and Google could then guess on a location. I'm not really comfortable with that either.
Steven C.

171 Posts
Does anyone know why they need clearance from Goverments to delete this data?

14 Posts
W60, potentially because it could be subpoenaed as evidence?

48 Posts
Google wardriving - film at eleven. Can't say I'm all that surprised.
No Love.

37 Posts

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