Does Google Know Almost All The Wi-Fi Passwords In The World?
Peter Donnell / 3 years ago
Today we caught an interesting article that raised some interesting questions and some pretty serious security concerns at the same time. When any Android device, be that a phone, a tablet or these days it could be your TV, fridge and any other number of devices powered by the OS, when one of these logs on a Wi-Fi network it stores the Wi-Fi password. Now that the device knows, it also means Google knows, or at least has access to that information and that means Google has access to a giant pool of Wi-Fi passwords.
IDC reported recently that around 187 million Android phones shipped in the second quarter of this year alone, effectively 748 million phone in 2013 alone and that is before you take Tablets and other devices into account. Most Android device backup, or sync with Google on a regular basis, phoning home if you will. This process helps you sync your accounts, backup phone numbers, messages, settings and of course passwords, including those used for Wi-Fi.
This is of course nothing new and ever since Android 2.2 the feature to backup like this has been in place, but it is most likely most people do no know about it. While it all sounds a little evil villain that Google could be harvesting all the passwords for some evil scheme, it’s most a case of protecting your own data, your own passwords and taking a few steps to ensure that somewhere down the line they don’t fall into the wrong hands.
- In Android 2.3.4, go to Settings, then Privacy. On an HTC device, the option that gives Google your Wi-Fi password is “Back up my settings”. On a Samsung device, the option is called “Back up my data”. The only description is “Back up current settings and application data”. No mention is made of Wi-Fi passwords.
- In Android 4.2, go to Settings, then “Backup and reset”. The option is called “Back up my data”. The description says “Back up application data, Wi-Fi passwords, and other settings to Google servers”.
Personally I don’t think I’ll be rushing to change the settings, but I can understand how many people will not be comfortable with sharing such information with Google, the choice of course is now yours.
Thank you ComputerWorld for providing us with this information.