Cybersecurity

The Google guy who snooped for wireless data was a 'god' among engineers

Virginia Mayo/AP

That "rogue engineer" who collected personal information over wireless networks via Google's Street View cars has been identified in today's New York Times as Marius Milner, the creator of wireless detection software NetStumblr. Milner, who had previously only been identified as Engineer Doe in the controversy, collected masses of data, including email addresses, passwords and search history, while gathering information about wireless networks to improve location based searches. He even went around bragging about it to his Google colleagues, which makes sense given he was a rockstar in the community of technologists working with wireless. As one colleague describes on Milner's LinkedIn. "Marius and I worked together in regards to his Netstumbler Software but due to NDA's, I'm not allowed to speak about what I did," writes John K. "He has revolutionized the wireless community with his software and allowed many companies to use his software to their advantage to make sure they have a secure wireless network. He is a GOD in the wireless community." Google, of course, knew of his prestige when they selected him for the job, making this data collection "side project" seem all the more suspicious.

NetStumblr is a wireless detection software, which can pick up LAN signals, but is also used for "wardriving," where people drive around trying to pick up wireless signals, which is exactly why Google "tapped" Milner for this project. Before the Street View cars set off to map the world and sneakily collect WiFi data, Milner worked as a software engineer at the YouTube branch of Google, a completely separate part of the organization, says his LinkedIn. Though he had spent five years at Google doing other software engineering things, for the last three years he worked at the video subsidiary. Yet, given Milner's "wardriving" expertise, Google selected him for Street View. 
 
Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.

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// November 26
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