Now that the first round of Google Glass units have gone out to users, people are figuring out how to use — and hack — this innovative device
While not yet widely available, Google Glass has just started to disseminate into the public. And now that these devices are out in the open, some interesting issues have come about. Innovative apps are changing the way Glass is used, while cracks and hacks show some very worrying privacy issues.
Unsurprisingly for such a prominent device, it took just about no time before hackers were diving into Google Glass, and trying to find their way around security restrictions. Most notably, a prominent Android hacker Jay Freeman (aka Saurik) figured out a way into the device based on a known exploit for the Android OS. The hack requires physical access to the device to use, but once installed it gives the person unprecedented access to Google Glass. On smartphones it can be stymied by a simple screenlock, but there's no such security on Google Glass.
On one hand, a Glass user could intentionally hack their own device so as to record video footage without a telltale recording LED turning on, or to use custom phrases to start recording without suspicion.
The idea is that if I am given physical access to your Glass, within a minute or two I can have installed software on it which now follows you throughout your life, recording everything you do; I know where you are, I see through your eyes, I hear through your ears: the only thing I am unable to record are your thoughts.
This is a much greater attack vector and risk than with a normal Android device such as a phone or tablet, because the Glass is attached to your face, and can thereby see things that a phone normally would not get a glimpse of: it sees you enter passwords into your computer, it sees you enter PIN codes into doors and ATMs, it sees your physical keys as you use them to enter buildings, and it even can record what you write using pen and paper.
Thankfully, we're also seeing some less nefarious custom uses of Google Glass. The first generation of apps has just started to arrive, and they're being used in innovate and new ways. We're already seeing versions tools that can be used to help identify someone based on their clothing, or take a photograph with a wink.
Hopefully these privacy concerns are birthing pangs with such a strange and new device, and by the time Google readies Glass for the mass market, the security side will be heavily patched.