Google data collection scandal reveals careless approach to security at WiFi access points
The news that Google saves unencrypted content from WiFi networks as it collects data for its Street View mapping service is creating an uproar among the public. More and more data protection specialists are leveling harsh criticism at the company. Wrongly so, what is so alarming about the Google WiFi scandal is not the fact that data was collected. The central problem lies elsewhere. There are numerous unprotected WiFi networks in the United States and the Google issue has made people aware of how carelessly they treat their data on a day-to-day basis. The fact is Google did not ‘hack into’ any of these networks, nor did it access this data through illegal methods. The Street View cars simply collected data that was, metaphorically speaking, ‘floating around in the air’ already. In any case, the company did no more with this data than save it. Anyone with a reasonable grasp of technology can collect WiFi data these days!
Easier for private households
It is not difficult to protect wireless access points. In recent years, many manufacturers have marketed secure consumer solutions aimed specifically at private households, which can be configured at the touch of a button. However, it is not so simple for businesses. They have different requirements and enterprise wireless security solutions are generally still inflexible, expensive and complex. As a result, companies either forego WiFi altogether, despite its business benefits or they rely on cheaper consumer solutions. This can be dangerous, as these versions naturally provide a much lower level of security than enterprise solutions.
One size doesn't fit all
An enterprise solution should be able to do more than manage an access point centrally, for example. It should also be able to support strict authentication in relation to Active Directory, for instance. Secure, convenient guest access is also a standard feature of an enterprise solution. If a company opts for a consumer product, there is no guarantee that it can be securely integrated with the operating environment and the security policy. It is particularly important to ensure that a WiFi security solution fits seamlessly into the security infrastructure in place, including features such as the firewall, VPN, and content filter.
There are means of securing WiFi access points. The next few months will see major progress in the development of simple, affordable enterprise solutions. For instance, in the third quarter, we plan to release Astaro Wireless Security, a plug-and-play WiFi security solution that is quick to install, can be managed centrally, and provides all the necessary security functions.
From a security perspective, it is less important to ask whether Google was right or wrong to collect data. Instead, WiFi users should ask themselves whether they wish to continue to leave their poorly protected or even unencrypted data ‘lying around’ or whether they would rather take action to prevent others from accessing it.
The original article/video can be found at “Why blame Google? Anyone can collect WiFi data these days!”