Google Glass: a security disaster waiting to happen?

google glassSo, it seems we have the first vulnerability for Google Glass, even before the product from your favourite Internet stalker hits the stores.

Consultant Jay ‘saurik’ Freeman has described how he used a known exploit for Android Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) to get root on Glass. This isn’t going to endear the platform to people who are already worried about its potentially dire privacy implications.

As a tech freak, I love gadgets, but this one sends chills down my spine. There’s already too much surveillance going on without your mates joining in. And I’ve had to have a quiet word with a few friends about not tagging me in photos on Facebook, thanks very much. The idea that I might be video recorded at any time by someone – possibly a complete stranger – wearing one of these pointless toys doesn’t fill me with technological glee.

Now there’s the possibility that it’s not just the Google Glasses owner who might be doing the snooping. If a hacker can gain remote root access to the device (not yet proven in the real world), the potential for spying on both the wearer and all the people with whom she/he comes into contact, is scary. Watching someone type in their PIN code or passwords would be just the thin end of the wedge.

The troubling thought is that it wouldn’t just be cyber-criminals who’d engage in this kind of unwarranted spying. We know that governments are always in the market for zero-days they can exploit in their surveillance activities.

And while one would hope that any Google Glass wearer would remove the device before engaging in anything particularly sensitive or private (and I’ll leave it to your imagination to work out what that might be), people are lax about this sort of thing, especially when something has become a habbit.

One would be slightly less discouraged if the damn thing wasn’t running on an already outdated version of Android. Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s a fine operating system, and I am terribly fond of my Droid phone. But there is a notorious problem with having so many devices out in the wild that are running on older versions of the OS. And then there’s the issue with pushing out updates. I mean, we all know that the first step to security is patching, right?

Google Glass seems to me to be yet another case of ‘hey, I’ve just had a really cool idea – we’ll worry about security later’. And even that wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t such a trivial idea. Have you seen the first images published? ‘Banal’ doesn’t begin to describe it…

Of course, Google doesn’t care about privacy. The entire business model of this advertising company is built on persuading or tricking us to give up as much of our privacy as possible. (Ditto Facebook et al.) And what better way of getting the masses to give up more than by waving a shiny new toy at them?


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