People who live in Google Glass houses shouldn't throw stones

A critical flaw could allow hackers to pwn Google's new ubergeek device. What was that about Microsoft's lax security?

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Google, which has enjoyed a healthy heap of schadenfreude at Microsoft's ongoing inability to patch security holes in a timely fashion, must be scraping some spaetzle off its face right about now. Fortunately for Google, somebody else uncovered the hack before the hackers did (we think). Also fortunately for Google, Lookout Mobile is just a wee bit more generous when it comes to notification than Google is. The G-security geeks recently decided to give other companies a week to respond to critical security flaws before going public with the information; Lookout Mobile gave Google at least two weeks.

Yes, I know, no device is immune from attack. But Google Glass is especially sensitive because it's both more personal and more public than even a cellphone. As the first true wearable computer, Glass is an extension of our physical senses, augmented reality for the eyes. As a device that can surreptitiously record and upload anything that falls within its field of vision, Glass also affects anyone who comes in contact with it.

As PCMag SecurityWatch blogger Max Eddy notes, Glass is ultimately just another Android device, which don't have a sterling reputation when it comes to security:

The huge amount of information available with a worn device could be a tempting target. ... This could include banking login information, two-factor authentication codes, or possibly extorting money from a victim by capturing embarrassing video.

Even mundane visual information -- like what products you look at, or things in your home -- could be valuable to advertisers and attackers.

In other words, this is the kind of gizmo that should be more secure than our smartphones and laptops, not less.

For me, this raises two questions:

  1. What other Glass hacks are out there we don't know about yet?
  2. What hacks would we like to see?

Hacks you can use

Personally, I'd welcome a hack that sends a small electric shock through the brain of any geek who suggests that wearing Glass is more "manly" and less effeminate than using a smartphone. Even better: One that causes overprivileged Silicon Valley venture capitalists a sudden attack of humility, coupled with an overwhelming desire to donate all of their billions to charity. I think everyone would appreciate a hack that automatically disables Google Glass when Robert Scoble attempts to wear it in the shower.

Like a lot of the bonehead maneuvers Google has made over the years, the cause comes down to culture: Google is a technology-driven fiefdom, obsessed with the next cool thing it can achieve and very little else. The fact that actual humans have to use these things seems to elude them.

Releasing Google Glass into the wild with absolutely zero security on it probably didn't faze the geeks, who just wanted to see what that sucker can do. But it could end up making suckers out of the rest of us.

What Google Glass hacks would you like to see? Post your thoughts below or email me:

This article, "People who live in Google Glass houses shouldn't throw stones," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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