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Google Secures WiFi for Windows

John Batelle, among others, mention that some telling Google URLs have been floating around. http://wifi.google.com/faq.html
being the only one that doesn't redirect you to the Google search page, proves most informative.

Many have been speculating about Google using its newly-acquired dark fiber network to create a second Internet,
or to launch its own nationwide free wifi service. While I believe the simplest explanation for that dark fiber is the most
likely - they need that fiber to move their massive datasets around - there is a faint possibility of something very exciting coming
out of it.

Enter wifi.google.com with its beta (of course) download of Google Secure Access. From reading the FAQ, I think the rumor-mill is missing
the point on this one. This IS a relevant, exciting development in and of itself! Secure Access appears to be a simple VPN or encrypted proxy client meant for
users to employ on their laptops when using public, and therefore untrusted, wifi networks. This really is huge because of the security vulnerabilities inherent
in public wifi acccess. The FAQ states that a Google employee used his 20% time to develop this app, which tunnels traffic through a Google proxy server via an encrypted
connection. Does this remind anyone of the Web Accelerator? Let's put privacy implications aside for one moment and trust that Google won't be executing man in the middle attacks
against our data... this could help drive the adoption of public wifi usage, especially for security-minded businessfolk.

Google Secure Access is also reminiscent of the older peer-to-peer proxy networks designed to secure traffic against prying corporate
firewalls. But for those who don't want to be running a P2P traffic app on their machine, thus providing free bandwidth to unknown entities,
the public encrypted proxy model becomes more attractive.

Although it seems that Google does in fact have a few public wifi networks in operation now, and this client is meant for use there specifically,
the FAQ does state that the Secure Access system should work with other networks. It would certainly be exciting to see a large-scale deployment of free wifi,
but for now, let's recognize this small but greatly significant development for its own merit.

Posted on September 21, 2005 | Permalink | Tag this post with del.icio.us | This Post Now Lives Here


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