Conroy slur risked public panic: McAfee

Summary:Communications Minister Stephen Conroy could have incited massive fear and panic in the community by accusing Google of capturing banking details, according to McAfee's chief technology officer for Asia Pacific, Michael Sentonas.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy could have incited massive fear and panic in the community by accusing Google of capturing banking details, according to McAfee's chief technology officer for Asia Pacific, Michael Sentonas.

Google admitted to capturing data over unsecured Wi-Fi networks through its Street View cars in May and took the cars off the road. Last month, in one of a number of attacks aimed at the internet giant, Conroy claimed some of the information captured could have included personal banking information.

"[If] you were doing a banking transaction, or transmitting personal information, they could have hoovered it up, sucked it up into their machine," Conroy told ABC Television last month.

"I don't think it helps to make general statements like that," Sentonas said. "It can incite massive fear and panic in the community, particularly around older people who aren't as familiar with the internet."

Sentonas said that due to the encryption and other security measures used by banks it was unlikely that any banking data was captured and what would have been captured would have been of very little use to anyone.

He added that while McAfee was reserving judgement on Google as the Australian Federal Police and the privacy commissioner continued to investigate the case, capturing so much data from Wi-Fi on its Street View cars is a "strange accident" to have happened.

Sentonas also believes the rising popularity of Google's Android will lead to an increase in malware on smartphone devices. Unlike Apple's iPhone, where every application goes through an approval process before it can be downloaded through the Apple store, the open source nature of Android leaves users open to vulnerabilities from unsigned applications.

"It's not like a year or two ago," he said. "Android is huge now, and the management for it does not exist."

Earlier this year McAfee launched its first antivirus application for Android. Last month the company introduced its first application for the iPhone, which includes search filtering and GPS locating for parents of children with iPhones.

Topics: Android, Google, Government : AU, Security

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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