Archive for November, 2011

Google is using your wireless router

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

I’ve known about Google’s (and other companies’) use of the SSID and location of my wireless router for some time. My phone, for instance, uses this information to approximate my location. Other phones do this as well. In fact, before GPS became common in smart phones, it was the only way to determine where you were for location-based services (such as finding a local restaurant).

Google does offer a way for you to opt out of this, but as this article points out, that’s not necessarily the right way to go about things. For instance, not everyone knows how to make the changes in the router to accommodate Google’s opt-out method. What if, like myself, you have a long-running network and don’t wish to change everything (not only do you have to change the settings on the router, but you now have to tell all your equipment the new setting)? Another thing suggested in the article is how accommodating Google won’t help you if another company decides to offer a similar service and doesn’t honor the same opt-out method as Google (or any opt-out method at all).

In my opinion, I have bigger things on my mind than people using my wireless network for location-based services. I understand that by broadcasting my SSID, it is visible from the outside. Half of the problem of using wireless networks for location determination is that people have a tendency to move and this will disrupt that kind of service. I even have a mobile hotspot that I use. I can just imagine how that can disrupt things.

Be wary of sharing your passwords

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

I’ve spoken in the past about how you should be using different and complex passwords. Today, I was reading a post from Leo Notenboom which hit home on the subject of sharing your passwords.

Now, in the course of my fixing a client’s computer, I may ask for a password. In 99% of the cases, the client just gives it to me and I proceed. I consider it a great honor that I’m entrusted with this information. For my part, I rarely keep a record of the passwords used which requires that I ask again when doing service at a later time. I know not to breech this trust as that would negatively impact the reputation I’ve grown. Besides, it’s just wrong. I’m also not offended if the client wishes to input the password instead of giving it to me.

You should really consider who has access to your passwords. I’ve encountered simple issues like spouses who know each others passwords on to more risky situations like kids knowing parents’ or employees knowing bosses’. The worst case, of course, is just having your password written down in full view of anyone who may pass by.

To summarize, in addition to maintaining separate and complex passwords for different sites (as well as computer and program logons), you need to take care who else has access to these passwords.