If Google's Project Fi proves successful, users may become even more cautious about transacting commerce on smartphones, and brands will need to work with Google to convince consumers it's safe to make transactions.
Will Google's service force mobile commerce to take a step back? Project Fi allows users to connect to a WiFi network to make calls and access data. If there's no wireless network within range to support the Nexus 6, it automatically defaults to a Sprint or a T-Mobile LTE connection.
No doubt snoopers on public WiFi hotspots will try to capture information in data packets traveling across open networks looking for ways to capture private data, said Armando Orozco, security researcher at Malwarebytes. This will create an increase in vulnerability as the encrypted packets traverse between WiFi hotspots and cellular towers owned by Sprint or T-Mobile.
Google initially said it would pay close attention to protecting data. "Project Fi automatically connects you to more than a million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots we've verified as fast and reliable," Nick Fox, the company's vice president of communications products, wrote in a post. "Once you're connected, we help secure your data through encryption."
Orozco agrees that WiFi hotspots have become more secure, but Project Fi is still something new the industry will need to closely watch.
Communication becomes the door to allow bugs to get in, especially on an open WiFi network. Google, Apple, Microsoft and others are working to lockdown their software, Orozco said. "Each time you add more data in the software, you need to go back and make sure nothing broke, that the addition didn't create holes," he said. "Every time you add new code you run the risk of introducing new bugs."
Google created a cloud-based number platform that will enable individual to use with Project Fi accounts. This feature will let individuals use the same number with their computer to send text messages and make phone calls from those devices.