May 24, 2010

366 words 2 mins read

Google+Wifi = Nothing to see here

You might have heard, Google managed to grab 600GB of data from open WiFi access points. Wow! An entire 600GB Google’s been downplaying it, because it isn’t a big deal. Do you realize how little data, 600GB is?

Me, as a single individual, I’ve got TBs in hard drives on my computers. I could spend an extra 600GB and not be that upset, other than the cost of another external HD. Google has tens (hundreds?) of thousands of machines and TRILLIONS of pages indexed. Hell, they give every Gmail account 7+GB just because they have the extra hard drive space. They measure their storage capacity in Petabytes. A petabyte, for those that don’t know, is 1024 Terabytes or 1,048,576 Gigabytes. I’m fairly sure you’re not going to notice a loss of 600GB out of several MILLION.

So, if they didn’t notice the space being taken up now, what about in collection? Think about the number of hours a fleet of street view vehicles can run up in 3 years. 25 vehicles * 8 Hours a day * 250 business days a year * 3 years = 150,000 hours — and this is very conservative. 600GB / 150k Hrs = 1.17KB/s of data (per car). I wouldn’t notice if I was downloading an extra 1 KB/s of data, and I’m not Google. That isn’t much extra considering that they are doing numerous things at the same time: Taking 8-10 pictures, recording GPS data, laser scanning buildings and recording the SSID/MAC/Location information for WiFi.

What this boils down to is their software captured and kept more of the WiFi packets than they needed to. I do wardriving and I too have recorded packets over open WiFi connections. Guess who’s fault this is? Yours! You, the end user, have an open WiFi connection — your data is being sent in the CLEAR. Don’t blame Google because they accidentally picked up some stray raw packets, and never did anything with them. Just hope someone else didn’t pick up your packets, someone that has ill intentions for you. Oh, and let’s not forget that all they probably manged to pick up was a couple of (unusable) packets of your porn surfing.