Google Securing Your Wi-Fi

By Eric Griffith

September 20, 2005

Information found on the search giant's site reveals VPN software for securing hotspot connections, perhaps as a prelude to 'GoogleNet.'

Reuters and other sources this morning are pointing to pages found on Google.com indicating plans afoot for the search engine giant to offer a Wi-Fi VPN software tool called "Google Secure Access." As of this writing, the tool is found at the URL WiFi.Google.com/download.html.

A FAQ file at the site describes the Windows-only software as "a downloadable client application that allows users to establish a more secure WiFi connection." It connects to a Google virtual private network (VPN) server in order to secure connections for end users. This offering puts the company in competition with other software being offered by well-funded companies like JiWire and smaller parties like HotSpotVPN. Unlike the competition, Google will offer Secure Access for free. The software is, obviously, still in beta -- just like most other Google services, including popular offerings like Gmail.

The FAQ says it is "only available in certain locations in the San Francisco Bay Area," where Google sponsors hotspots with partner Feeva. However, a download and run of the software here at Wi-Fi Planet seemed to create an (admittedly untested) secure connection without problem.

These reports follow a report by Om Malik of Business 2.0 magazine in August that the company may be buying up unused or "dark" fiber-optic networks in hopes of launching a nationwide service, likely using Wi-Fi for last-mile customer connections. Malik called the network GoogleNet. Google is reportedly viewing bids now based on a request for proposal (RFP) it issued.

The Web site InsideGoogle says the traffic going through Google's service from Secure Access use could be heavy, and could be subject to the same privacy problems of the recently-pulled Google Web Accelerator software. The Google Secure Access Privacy Policy states, "Google may log some information from your web page requests as may the websites that you visit. We do this to understand how Google Secure Access is being used and to improve our services. Google Secure Access does not log cookies and strips potentially sensitive query data from the end of requests to help better protect your privacy."



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