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    Haalcyon's Avatar

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    Default Backing Up Android to Google Mean Giving Them Your Password

    Article by Kevin Perrish on Tom's Hardware (his source, ComputerWorld):

    Backup up your android device means giving Google the key to your network.


    "Did you know Google is collecting Wi-Fi passwords saved on Android smartphones and tablets? You can thank the baked-in backup feature in Android for this, as the platform sends personal data into the cloud so that when users purchase a new Android device or need to restore one to factory defaults, all settings can be restored after signing into a Google account, even Wi-Fi passwords.

    Say, for instance, you have the first-generation Nexus 7 tablet. Before Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean", it was a necessity to restore the tablet back to factory defaults in order to clean out the unused data (garbage) piled on the internal storage. Once the tablet was cleaned and signed back into the Google account, it re-downloaded all apps and settings previously installed on the device. Initially you can't even tell that the tablet restored all Wi-Fi settings because you've already enabled primary access prior to re-installing Android.

    MORE: How The NSA's Spying Keeps You Safe

    "A wide variety of your personal data is backed up, including your Wi-Fi passwords, Browser bookmarks, a list of the applications youve installed, the words youve added to the dictionary used by the onscreen keyboard, and most of the settings that you configure with the Settings application," states the Users Guide on page 374."Some third-party applications may also take advantage of this feature, so you can restore your data if you reinstall an application."

    The backup storage option has been around since Android 2.2 "Froyo", and is enabled by default. In Android 4.1.2 this option is listed under Settings/Privacy and clearly reads "back up app data, Wi-Fi passwords and other settings to Google servers". In Android 4.3, this option can be found under Settings/Backup & Reset. This feature is definitely super convenient for users who switch Android devices often (cough), but it's also a little scary given that Google does not encrypt consumer-based stored data on the server side, only when it's transmitted.

    Apparently the big recent stink surrounding the Android backup feature is that Google can actually read those Wi-Fi passwords because they're stored in plaintext. That doesn't mean Google employees are digging through the database reading the passwords of millions of Android customers. That means government agencies requesting user data will have no problem taking that easily readable information and logging into your local network.

    "Since backup and restore is such a useful feature, and since it's turned on by default, it's likely that the vast majority of Android users are syncing this data with their Google accounts," said Micah Lee, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Because Android is so popular, it's likely that Google has plaintext Wi-Fi passwords for the majority of password-protected Wi-Fi networks in the world."

    Paul Ducklin of security firm Sophos points out that the list of Wi-Fi networks on an Android device is likely larger than the single access point in the user's home (I have four just in my house). Thus each Android device backing data up into the cloud is essentially helping Google add to the already extensive maps of Wi-Fi access points built up over the years. The solution, then, is to encrypt everything on the device before backing up into the cloud.

    "The problem with that is it's not quite as convenient, not least because there's no password-free way to recover that backed-up data, for example if you forget your password. That's the dilemma we all face," he writes. "Are you prepared to accept a digital equivalent of locking your keys in the car forever (for example if you forget your full-disk encryption password and didn't save the recovery key)? Or would you prefer to have what amounts to a backdoor to your own, or worse still, to other people's, personal information?"

    Good question. Sometimes I think it would be better to just go back to rotary phones and using books to access information. Regardless, if you don't want Google storing your personal information, then turn off Android's backup feature."

    Interesting. While, at some level, I knew this it struck a chord to have it explained in this way.
  2. #2  

    Default Re: Backing Up Android to Google Mean Giving Them Your Password

    WiFi passwords aren't too hard to fund out, anyone with a bit of time can crack most home WiFi networks with the right software. From memory on a laptop you download a programme I believe is air (something) it down loafs hundreds of thousands packets of data from WiFi networks and pieces them together to get the pass.

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    Tom Fairclough
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  3. Thread Author  Thread Author    #3  
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    Default Re: Backing Up Android to Google Mean Giving Them Your Password

    Quote Originally Posted by Fairclough View Post
    WiFi passwords aren't too hard to fund out, anyone with a bit of time can crack most home WiFi networks with the right software. From memory on a laptop you download a programme I believe is air (something) it down loafs hundreds of thousands packets of data from WiFi networks and pieces them together to get the pass.

    - Android Central App. Remember courage is contagious.
    So, IYO, it doesn't even matter that Google-->Gov't has them in plain text? It doesn't really bother me as, I infer, we no longer have any privacy anyways and I'm not involved in anything nefarious. ...but still.


    S IV
    Live long and prosper.


  4. #4  

    Default Re: Backing Up Android to Google Mean Giving Them Your Password

    Quote Originally Posted by Haalcyon View Post
    Did you know Google is collecting Wi-Fi passwords saved on Android smartphones and tablets?
    Yes. I pay attention to my phone's settings and have done so for years.
  5. Thread Author  Thread Author    #5  
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    Default Re: Backing Up Android to Google Mean Giving Them Your Password

    Quote Originally Posted by ultravisitor View Post
    Yes. I pay attention to my phone's settings and have done so for years.
    Us "geeky" types tend to be more likely to do that than the masses. Most folks are not familiar with the plethora of settings in their devices and I think Google is taking advantage of that.

    Sony XTZ
    Live long and prosper.


  6. #6  

    Default Re: Backing Up Android to Google Mean Giving Them Your Password

    What will having a WiFi password do? I am pretty sure they don't want free data

    - Android Central App. Remember courage is contagious.
    Tom Fairclough
    Credo faber est quisque fortunae suae
    I believe every man is the artisan of his own fortune
  7. #7  

    Default Re: Backing Up Android to Google Mean Giving Them Your Password

    Thanked by:
    The Real X Dawg likes this.
  8. Thread Author  Thread Author    #8  
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    Default Re: Backing Up Android to Google Mean Giving Them Your Password

    Interesting. Was that article released after my initial post?

    Sony XTZ
    Live long and prosper.


  9. #9  

    Default

    4 hours after. I thought the same when I saw it, as in which one was first.

    - Android Central App. Remember courage is contagious.
    Tom Fairclough
    Credo faber est quisque fortunae suae
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