Feeds

Google's Wi-Fi sniff probe reveals 'criminal intent' - PI

'We paid them to say what?'

High performance access to file storage

An analysis of Google's Wi-Fi sniffing code, paid for by Google, suggests the company could find itself facing criminal charges, according to a privacy watchdog and pressure group.

Google's lawyers Perkins Coie paid computer forensics firm Stroz Friedberg to analyse the code used, presumably in order to defend itself against attacks from several privacy authorities in Europe and elsewhere.

Consultants from Stroz Friedberg analysed the source code for "gslite" - the program running while Google's Street View cars trundled along the street.

They found gslite - part of the gstumbler programme - was made up of 32 source code files and 12 extra files with config files and changelog information.

The software worked with Kismet - packet-sniffing software. gslite then parsed header information from any unsecured wireless network it passed. Kismet hopped channels five times per second in order to grab as many networks as possible.

The paper said that frames from encrypted networks were discarded by gslite. Unencrypted bodies were written straight to disc, but not parsed by the program.

Privacy International believe this represents criminal intent - data protection law does not normally allow the interception of communications in this way.

PI said: "This action by Google cannot be blamed on the alleged 'single engineer' who wrote the code. It goes to the heart of a systematic failure of management and of duty of care."

Gslite made no attempt to parse the body of any messages or file transfers, but it also collected numerical identifiers of kit attached to the network.

The program linked the information collected with GPS data from the car. The analysis notes that the GPS system provides geolocation data rather more slowly than network data so gslite corrects the difference between the two before storing the file.

PI's blog post is here, and it also has a link to the pdf report.

The "rogue engineer" theory was further undermined by Google's legal eagles' earlier moves to patent the network sniffing technology.

A Google spokesman said, "As we have said before, this was a mistake. The report today confirms that Google did indeed collect and store payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks, but not from networks that were encrypted. We are continuing to work with the relevant authorities to respond to their questions and concerns."®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.