Android Phone Backup Considered Dangerous

Michael Horowitz, Google knows nearly every Wi-Fi password in the world | Computerworld Blogs.

Oh, joy. See, if Google knows your wifi passwords (and all the other app passwords it backs up) then it can be compelled to tell them by officials bearing the right paperwork.

Android devices have defaulted to coughing up Wi-Fi passwords since version 2.2. And, since the feature is presented as a good thing, most people wouldn’t change it. I suspect that many Android users have never even seen the configuration option controlling this. After all, there are dozens and dozens of system settings to configure.

And, anyone who does run across the setting can not hope to understand the privacy implication. I certainly did not.


  • In Android 2.3.4, go to Settings, then Privacy. On an HTC device, the option that gives Google your Wi-Fi password is “Back up my settings”. On a Samsung device, the option is called “Back up my data”. The only description is “Back up current settings and application data”. No mention is made of Wi-Fi passwords.
  • In Android 4.2, go to Settings, then “Backup and reset”. The option is called “Back up my data”. The description says “Back up application data, Wi-Fi passwords, and other settings to Google servers”.

The good news is that if you turn it off, Google says they erase all of the data.

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