The recent news surrounding Google’s collection of data from wifi networks will make many users concerned on privacy and facts surrounding the difference between a wired and wireless network.
A WiFi wireless network (as architected today) unless properly secured can expose an unsuspecting average users to some serious vulnerability.
The solution to this problem should not be just left at making consumers more aware of security risks and prescribing procedures to secure a network – this rarely works.
An average user would buy a wireless router because of what it is marketed as – i.e. wireless freedom to carry the laptop / or any other wireless device around the house and share the network with multiple devices.
When an average users purchases a wireless router to replace the wired router the expectation is for things to work seamlessly as before, and non tech users always take the easiest approach to get the new wireless device up and running (which means setting up with default / easy setting and with security disabled), without realizing the new security risks by leaving the wireless network unsecured. The user is unaware of the new scenario of being snoop-able by anyone within range (typically up-to 100′s of feet), this simply did not exist in a wired network where to tap into the network a physical access to the wired link was required.
Although the wifi standard now mandates devices to support WPA2 for all wifi certified products. It is possible (and sometimes necessary by design) to setup a WiFi network and have security disabled.
Further public free wifi networks are left unsecured to allow for anyone to join the network. The explosion of free public wi-fi hotspots increase the vulnerabilities to user privacy.
Its fairly simple for anyone to install one of the many tools that can snoop the wireless network and have some fun with unsecured wifi access points.
In contrast the Bluetooth wireless standard in-fact has default application level security requirements that makes security always mandatory for any application level connection.
Even in the simplest of the use case it will always provides for a secure link and make it impossible for Google or anyone else to be sniffing the airwaves and driving by and in the process accidentally capture your passwords / emails / chats etc.