[kwlug-disc] [OT] Google sniffing wifi, collecting emails and passwords.

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Fri Jun 25 22:28:03 EDT 2010


On Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 10:13 PM, Bob Jonkman <bjonkman at sobac.com> wrote:

> On Fri, 2010-06-25 at 16:40 -0400, Chris Irwin wrote:
> > Google doesn't know your MAC address. They don't even know your
> > machine's private IP address.
>
> Of course, this whole thread started because Google was recording
> wireless router MAC addresses (which COULD be useful for geolocation).
>
> But an AP's MAC address has no correlation to the IP address your ISP
> assigns.


Yes.

MAC addresses have a vendor code part and then a number assigned by the
vendor. At most, you can deduce the vendor, and perhaps certain model
information from that.

Contrary to phone numbers, there is no global registry for MAC addresses
cross referencing who owns which ones.


> So we're all safe, right?
>

Google are sniffing WiFi, mainly for MAC addresses. They will probably
filter out by vendor to know which ones are routers (likely to stay where
they are) and which are transient (laptops, Wifi smart phones, ...etc.)

The issue here is that they were using a tool that happened to log more than
just MAC addresses. This included fragments of (unencrypted) data that
happened to be on the air at the time the Google van is in range. These
include IP addresses, email addresses, and whatever else happened to be in
the packets at the time.

The data is just fragments, so probably not useful for much more. And they
said Oops! Their explanation is plausible, and for reasons I mentioned
earlier, it not likely that they intended to go and sniff everything. And I
also explained that phone book information is far more a privacy threat than
these mere fragments, and using the open source tool was to blame (lazy
engineer?).

But it boils down to whether you want to take their word that the additional
info was accidental or not. So everyone need to form their opinion for this
part.
-- 
Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
http://2bits.com
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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