After reports about incidents with Google's Street View cars accidentally gathering personal data submitted over WiFi networks, hackers stealing iPad owners’ email addresses, and wireless and Wi-Fi networks making users' private data accessible, the Federal Communications Commission is warning members of the public about how easily their data can be get into the wrong hands.
In a blog post last Friday, FCC Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Joel Gurin wrote about how these fiascoes have led the agency to step up its cyber efforts, noting how the iPad incident especially is exactly the kind of incident that has resulted in an enhanced focus on cybersecurity.
“Our Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is now addressing cybersecurity as a high priority,“ he wrote. “The FCC's mission is to ensure that broadband networks are safe and secure, and we're committed to working with all stakeholders to prevent problems like this in the future.“
The case of Google's collection of personal information sent over WiFi, intentional or not, clearly infringes on consumer privacy, and serves as a warning for everyone to be extra vigilant when using public or open networks, Gurin wrote.
“Here, there are some immediate remedies,“ he wrote. “The Google incident is a reminder that “˜open' Wi-Fi networks ““ those that are not encrypted ““ are all too vulnerable to cyber snooping.“
To help consumers and their information stay safe, FCC has published a guide to wireless safety, which among many other things, encourages the use of encryption to scramble communications over the network and using a firewall and anti-virus and anti-virus software.