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Google's Street View cars captured e-mail passwords, content

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 19 Jun 2010 21:03 User comments (5)

Google's Street View cars captured e-mail passwords, content An analysis of some of the payload data accidentally sniffed by Google's Street View cars reportedly shows the cars nabbed e-mail account passwords and e-mail contents from unsecured wireless networks. The report comes from the French National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL).
"It's still too early to say what will happen as a result of this investigation," CNIL told IDG. "However, we can already state that [...] Google did indeed record e-mail access passwords and extracts of the content of email messages."

On May 14, Google confessed that Street View cars operating in 30 countries had accidentally collected payload data from unsecured wireless networks, after previously asserting that they hadn't. Google had been scanning open Wi-Fi networks from the cars, collecting SSIDs and MAC addresses of network hardware. The information is used by Google for applications that rely on location data.

After admitting to the snooping, Google said that only fragments of information were collected and only from unsecured networks. It said its Street View cars were constantly on the move and that Wi-Fi equipment in the cars automatically changed channels about five times per second.

However, CNIL has confirmed that at least "some" usable personal information was retrieved accidentally. Since admitting to the Wi-Fi snooping, some countries have asked Google to delete the data retrieved within their borders, and others have asked for it to be retained as part of an investigation, including Spain, Germany and France.

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5 user comments

119.6.2010 23:51

Quote:
An analysis of some of the payload data accidentally sniffed by Google's Street View cars reportedly shows the cars nabbed e-mail account passwords and e-mail contents from unsecured wireless networks.

Is it just me, or is the fact that these passwords were broadcasted in plain text a lot more worrisome than Google's happening to overhear them?

220.6.2010 0:29

Originally posted by nonoitall:
Quote:
An analysis of some of the payload data accidentally sniffed by Google's Street View cars reportedly shows the cars nabbed e-mail account passwords and e-mail contents from unsecured wireless networks.

Is it just me, or is the fact that these passwords were broadcasted in plain text a lot more worrisome than Google's happening to overhear them?
Yep that's true. Or using unsafe WEP. I think that the problem just lies with people not knowing really how wireless networks work, even though knowing how to just turn on WPA isn't that hard a task at all.. in fact most setup discs with routers and access points now would have WPA on by default and would warn the user if they select an unsecured network.

A big problem too is ISPs that gave out routers that have WEP switched on but the ISP is doing nothing to warn about how easy it is to hack that network.

320.6.2010 12:00

It will be a long time before email goes away. If it does, it will be replaced by something that serves the one-to-few (as apposed to one-to-many or one-to-all) goal of email.

I work for TrulyMail and we have a product which could replace email. Without sounding too marketing oriented, it really does solve a lot of email problems.

Of course, the COO's point was not that email is flawed. Her point was that since teens don't send emails, nobody will send emails in the future and that is just crazy. People don't send a legal contract via SMS. People don't IM a company report. Of course, teens don't usually deal with legal contracts or company reports.

As people get older, their needs for communication change. Yes, the paper letter is now quaint. It was replaced by something which serves the same purpose (asynchronous rich messaging). Blogging is no replacement for that. Blogging (and sending status updates which is really micro-blogging) has its role but it is far from an email replacement.

421.6.2010 11:02
Google Street View
Unverified new user

hmmm...passwords? What is Google going to do with those? Some more privacy invasions here: http://www.streetviewfunny.com

524.6.2010 11:50

Yeah...what is Google going to do with a bunch of random emails and passwords? I don't get the "evil empire" vibe from Google right now so I'm not worried about what Google would do with them. I'm more worried about Nonoitall's point.

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