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Residential Wi-Fi Mapping Database Revealed

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the X-ICBM dept.

Privacy 167

Talaria writes "An enormous database of home wifi routers and their locations has been revealed after the Internet Patrol did some digging following AOL's recent announcement of their new "Near Me" service, which allows AIM users to see which of their instant messenger buddies are geographically near them. The database, containing the unique IDs of more than 16 million wireless routers and their locations, has been compiled by AOL partner Skyhook Wireless, which claims to have mapped the majority of residences in the U.S. and Canada."

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167 comments

Another reason... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18419821)

...to use a wired LAN. Wireless sucks, hard, in all its incarnations.

mod parent up (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420377)

I honestly don't understand all the hype regarding wireless. Sure, it's convenient for laptops in an airport, cafe, or other public location, but to me it just doesn't make sense for most residences. I think it's main selling point is the fact that people don't have to run wires and people are generally cheap and lazy. But I wired my house myself (16 outlets over 6 rooms) for about $300 in equipment (router, patch panel, 1000' cable, tools, etc) and two days of my time. The setup is fantastic and I don't have to worry about some random jackass piggy-backing my connection. Even if you have a couple of laptops in your house it wouldn't be a problem if you planned an appropriate wiring scheme. Of course if you want to roam around your house and in your yard with your laptop wireless is really the only option, but in my estimation the vast majority of residences consist of exclusively non-portable desktop machines. In that regard wireless is used simply because it is easy and cheap.

Little girls go wiresless; real men run wires.

Re:mod parent up (0, Flamebait)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420565)

Actual wireless makes sense if you are in an apartment or a place that you do not own. But if you own it and your house is less than 50 years old and you run wireless, then the person is either lazy or a total idiot. As it is, the wireless stuff is always undergoing expensive upgrades. I have wired to homes where each had 2300 up and each house had ~10 rooms (and 1 outside drop with an inside cutoff switch) that I wired in a weekend. First one cost me about 200 (10 years ago). The second was less than a hundred.

Who with the what now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420755)

I have wired to homes where each had 2300 up...

What does that mean? I guessed that you meant "two" instead of "to", but what does "where each had 2300 up" mean?

Re:Who with the what now? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420997)

Mea Culpa. I should never post when I am in a hurry. I did mean two homes (wow, that was bad). 2300 up is 2300 square feet upstairs(main floor and 2'nd level). There is another 800 and 1000 in the basement (800 in the first, 1000 in the 2'nd).

wireless is good for homes too (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420819)

Wire to each room is a no brainier but wireless is also useful, I dont want a wire draped accross the couch when I am checking sports scores on my notebook and watching TV...what if I want to sit outside on the porch, or in the middle of the back yard for that matter, am I supposed to string a cable drop to the old oak tree? a drop that I may use 3 times a year...why be tethered? doing huge file transfer is one thing, but wifi is great for most every day stuff. Your post shows a sense of elitism that is the essence of what turns people off to this site.

Re:wireless is good for homes too (2, Interesting)

hjf (703092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421167)

no. you're just wrong. I can see that you have never used wireless. My cousin lives in a regular latin american house. That is, brick and mortar. No drywall. There's no more than 30 feet to the access point, yet she has trouble to get signal. Sure, it's 2 walls away. But it's supposed to be convenient . It just doesn't work. And no, it's no crappy gear. It's a 200mW AP and a Centrino laptop (awhich are supposed to be the best wireless cards around). The other day I wasn't getting ANY signal, on the spot where she uses it all the time. Guess what I found? There was a BOTTLE OF WATER 2 feet away from the computer. I moved that bottle and it worked. That means wireless is NOT practical. No. It's not practical to need to install high gain antennas and range extenders everywhere. They are pretty expensive, too (remember: we are in the third world). And you need outlets all over the place. And don't get me started on how wireles works in my house (a two story house, all brick).

Re:wireless is good for homes too (1)

bluemonq (812827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421539)

NOT practical for YOU, you mean.

Re:wireless is good for homes too (1)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422025)

You either have interference, broken equipment, and/or perhaps you should dial down the power from 200mW... most commercial wifi radios just aren't happy at those powers...

In my experience, the standard 28mW output from my wrt54g is more than enough to completely cover a two story 2,000 sq ft house with excellent signal, even if the ap is at one extreme corner of the house.

-Tom

Re:wireless is good for homes too (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422561)

well, my house is actually 4300 sq ft (2 story, 200 sq mt), and my cousin's home is a little smaller. but both are made of brick and high ceilings (my ceilings are 9 ft high). and remember that there's lots of metal in all that concrete. The equipment is not broken, as I have tested with several combinations: 200mW senao, 55mW Linksys, even a $ 1000 100mW Cisco Aironet, and none of them worked as good as I wanted them to work. Most times they do work relatively well in the same floor, but the signal doesn't seem to go past the ceilings. I have succeeded in installing 25km wi-fi links, which is what I did for a living a few years ago, but can't seem to make them work in my own house. Go figure.

Re:mod parent up (3, Insightful)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420879)

Actual wireless makes sense if you are in an apartment or a place that you do not own. But if you own it and your house is less than 50 years old and you run wireless, then the person is either lazy or a total idiot.

Or if you use a laptop and don't feel like being tethered to your desk.

I have an apartment, and my desktop, TiVo, and PS2 are all hooked up by wires (that run along one wall), but I still have wireless enabled: it's for laptop/Nintendo DS use.

I can, of course, also plug the laptop in directly via a wired connection, but then it'd be tethered to my desk. So instead I use wireless, and can use the laptop all over my apartment. Wireless is more for mobile device use than for simply avoiding having to run wires.

Re:mod parent up (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421069)

I have wireless enabled as well, but that is so that I can play games with the police (I now live in highlands ranch, CO) and the drive-by crackers. They come by and attempt to play with the xen session that I have established as a honey pot for them. I have actually gone out and took a pic of 2 guys working furiously. When they realized that, they drove off quickly. I probably should have turned them in, but I have been hoping that they would come by again. I just want to play a little. :)

Re:mod parent up (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421565)

Or if you use a laptop and don't feel like being tethered to your desk.

I'm not tethered to my desk. I've got a few Ethernet cables lying around the living room, so I can plug in wherever. I need to run wires to my laptop anyway (power, often USB (audio output) as well), so one more isn't going to bother me.

Re:mod parent up (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422355)

Why would I want to bother running wires if I can get the same connectivity with wireless and WPA without bothering with cables. Especially considering that when my nephew comes over (who is one), he likes to get into cords and cables and stuff. My power cord pulls out of my notebook pretty easily, but the ethernet doesn't. What happens when he pulls on the cord and the computer comes crashing down? Happened to my M-in-Law and her notebook is still getting repaired (mind you, that's because the service at the place she got it sucks, but anyway).

Re:mod parent up (2, Informative)

EatHam (597465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421027)

Or if you have 100 other things to do besides take an entire weekend running wires. Or if you want to use your laptop outside. Or if you don't want to drill holes everywhere. Or if you don't have easy access to an attic or basement. Or, or, or, or. There are valid reasons to go wireless. Being lazy is one, being an idiot is one, and just liking to have the freedom that comes with a wireless connection is another.

Re:mod parent up (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421127)

For the couple of hundreds of dollars and a bit of time, it will increase the value of your home by more than a 1000 AND make it easier to sell. In this economy, I like having the edge, just in case. In fact, I will be installing central vac in the next year (grew up with one and they are a must have).

Re:mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422043)

My house is over 50 years old. My cable modem is downstairs, it plugs into my AP and my Vonage box. From the AP I get wireless upstairs to my desktop in my office, and throughout the house (and into the backyard!) for my wife's laptop, and into my neighbors houses for their laptops (yeah, I share my wireless with anyone). Performance on the desktop upstairs is good enough to not bother trying to run cable up there.

Re:mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420585)

That's nice for you. But my house is 113 years old, and has plaster walls. A fully wired network would be much nicer, and faster, but it is not always practical. Suggesting that people avoid running wires because they are cheap and lazy is pretty fucking ignorant.

Re:Another reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420779)

Is there a wireless incarnation where it is a girl?

Wow... (5, Funny)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419825)

Why don't they just color code it to show the non-secure points and send a fax to all known hackers?

oh... just got an email!!

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421853)

In Soviet Russia, the network maps YOU!

Re:Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421975)

Done and done!

Public celllular network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18419837)

How soon before a nearly free public cellular wi/fi etc. network?

Re:Public celllular network (1)

PurPaBOO (604533) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420895)

now. http://www.fon.com/ [fon.com]

First post and it's slashdotted?!! (2, Funny)

writertype (541679) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419839)

Man, that's some weak sauce.

Re:First post and it's slashdotted?!! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420901)

How about some cyber sauce?

AOL Introduces Location Plug-In for Instant Messaging So Users Can See Where Buddies Are
[...Adam McDugle (an IT manager and regular slashdot user) is testing out the Skyhook plugin on a late Saturday night over a scotch on the rocks at the house. Meanwhile an AIM session takes a curious turn...]
adam_mcdugle - So, you really look like that jpeg you sent me?
hotgrl69 - well my gf took the pic of me while i was showering lol!
adam_mcdugle - ORLY? Where did you say you live again?
hotgrl69 - my gf and i live in an apt in daytona beach :)
[ Adam notices the blue dot graph showing hotgrl69's actual location. He fires up google maps and sees hotgrl69 is actually in a trailer park in Jasper Arkansas. At this point, Adam pretty much realizes a set of twigs and berries is probably on the other end of the screen but really doesn't care... ]
adam_mcdugle - Tell me a little more about yourself. What makes you hot?
hotgrl69 - me and trish like long baths
hotgrl69 - we take turns with the sponge
hotgrl69 - we like to snorkel like ocean divers
hotgrl69 - hello?
adam_mcdugle - Yeah. I'm still here. But I only type 25 wpm per hand.

Figures ... (4, Funny)

petabyte (238821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419899)

My GPS unit for wardriving comes via Fedex tomorrow. Now they've taken all the fun out of it :(.

Haha, you turned off your SSID broadcasts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18419917)

but you didn't turn off your MAC broadcasts!

Does anybody know their methods? (1)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419923)

I'm guessing even though my SSID is disabled they still could have found mine. I'm getting tempted to run that 75foot cable to my couch.

Re:Does anybody know their methods? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420483)

Every access point has a hardware address that never changes (unless the owner is a firmware-flashing geek) and is always broadcast, even if you turn off SSID broadcasts. If you have a powered-on wireless access point and they've scanned your area, your AP is in the database. I don't think people should be worried about this any more than they should be worried if there were no such database: If your wireless AP is configured properly, you're safe and there's no negative impact from someone using the broadcasts of your AP to determine his location. If you want your net to be private and your AP is open or using an insufficient password or encryption method, what exactly are you waiting for? If you want your AP to be open, then you probably want that people use it, so the database can only help, right?

Come on guys! (3, Funny)

CasperIV (1013029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421177)

Quick, everyone trade routers! Let's make some poor data entry grunt cry.

Re:Does anybody know their methods? (2, Funny)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421629)

I want people to stumble upon mine, and proudly broadcast it. Teenlesbianorgy.

Wonderful (1)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419947)

Now I don't have to cruise through neighborhoods to pick up access points to get into then commit crimes, I can just check the internet!

Re:Wonderful (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420337)

Now I don't have to cruise through neighborhoods to pick up access points to get into then commit crimes, I can just check the internet!
And if anyone wants to know who carried out the crime, there's a nice log of your search from an IP probably linked to you.

Coral Cache (2, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18419959)

The site isn't loading for me
Hit the Coralized link:
http://www.theinternetpatrol.com.nyud.net:8080/eno rmous-map-of-wifi-servers-including-yours-revealed -by-aol-and-skyhook-announcement [nyud.net]

My only response to "ZOMG databse!!"
is that anyone could do this if they had time and money.

Re:Coral Cache (1)

damirl (988199) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420091)

WiGLE (3, Informative)

lthown (737539) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420319)

I've been uploading wardriving stuff to WiGLE for over a year, using that you can actually even see the access point names and if security is turned on: http://www.wigle.net/ [wigle.net] .

Re:WiGLE (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421931)

Well, that sucks: FF20002, "browse interactive maps": "nothing here. are you a bot?"

Great site.

Re:Coral Cache (1)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422073)

The Coral Cache operates on port 8090. Here is a corrected link [nyud.net] , though at this point, all that's cached is proof that the Internet Patrol's copy of WordPress has left a smoldering crater where their server once was...

What "unique code?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18419985)

Skyhook's trucks have been cruising your street, have identified your home wireless router by its unique code that only your home wifi has - and is correlating it with your location using GPS.
Is this "unique code" just the MAC address? The SSID? Whatever it is, any router worth its plastic will let you change them, and all of us doing so would waste at least the sum of the antenna truck work done in front of our houses.

No surprise (5, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420011)

Who would be surprised about this? Are there still people out there who think that there's some magical way of being attached to the Net and still being anonymous? You've gotta be especially naive to think that your wireless router, broadcasting information into the air, isn't going to be picked up by somebody other than you.

Anonymous (0, Offtopic)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420199)

Are there still people out there who think that there's some magical way of being attached to the Net and still being anonymous?
This guy [slashdot.org] thinks so.

Re:Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420313)

That sounds like hobo-talk. Let's ignore it.

Re:Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420383)

CALUMNY!

Yeah, it's hobo talk. I'll just ignore the smelly bum, too.

Re:No surprise (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420237)

My neighbors learned this the hard way, after their wifi signal was overtaking mine. Let's just say their SSID mysteriously went from being "linksys" to "cia-fbi-disney" and the wireless function somehow stopped working soon thereafter.

Re:No surprise (2)

Ankur Dave (929048) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422407)

Couldn't you just have changed the channel their router operated on? That would let them continue to use their wireless unharmed (so you avoid the bad karma :-) ) and your signal wouldn't get drowned out.

Re:No surprise (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422525)

I didn't fill you in on the rest of the story. They don't pick up after their dog and play their music too loud. Fark'em, I think I've netted positive karma despite it all :-)

Well, they didn't find me, it's pretty trivial (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420295)

- Set SSID to something random, and don't broadcast it
- I even use WEP, as supposedly insecure and old school as that is
- So far I have shown up on no wardriving maps

Or.. (1)

CasperIV (1013029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421251)

You could just line your living room with lead... and this way I'm getting 0 interference.

Re:Or.. (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422279)

But if I do that, I can't mooch off all the neighbors' unsecured hot spots!

Re:No surprise (1)

Joe5678 (135227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421469)

This has nothing to do with using a wireless access point anonymously. This database only functions to allow a wireless enabled device (most likely a pda, or laptop since most cell phones already know where they are) to do a scan of the access points around it, pass the list of AP's it can see to the database/service, which then tells the device exactly where it is.

This doesn't involve you accessing the internet through your WAP and your privacy at all. Your WAP and it's unique ID are simply being used as a reference point for other devices.

It also doesn't seem like their work will pay off, since nearly all new pda's have cell service and already know where they are.

They advertise it (4, Informative)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420047)

I love this silly blog... "according to news sources..."... like it's some kind of secret database. Here's a better source: http://www.skyhookwireless.com/ [skyhookwireless.com] On their front page

"Skyhook Wireless provides a software-only positioning system that leverages a nationwide database of known Wi-Fi access points to calculate the precise location of any Wi-Fi enabled device. "

Skyhook trucks (0, Redundant)

aliendisaster (1001260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420059)

Next time you see a skyhook truck [ebay.com] drive by, unplug your router. Then block the doorway and get out the double barrel shotgun.

Re:Skyhook trucks (5, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420633)

That's not a Slashdot solution.

A camera to monitor your street, and a switch that cuts power to your router while discharging a HERF weapon concealed in a lawn gnome is a Slashdot solution.

Re:Skyhook trucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421609)

It would be a Slashdot solution if anybody here actually did that sort of thing.

Re:Skyhook trucks (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421639)

I think you mean a lawn GNU/Gnome.

Re:Skyhook trucks (1)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422179)

I think you meant Nerf weapons =) Not as effective, maybe, but totally more Slashdot...

How about a photo of your house in a database? (3, Interesting)

shalunov (149369) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420069)

A truck records signal from your WiFi router? How about people taking a picture of your house to sell to banks and insurance companies [azstarnet.com] ? Or aerial close-ups of your backyard [outer-court.com] ?

Re:How about a photo of your house in a database? (2, Interesting)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422101)

Almost every house in Omaha is already photographed and can be pulled up from the Douglas County Assessor's website. If also available, you can get the floorplan for the house, see it's last appraised worth, etc.

The photographs are always taken from the street and you never see people in them. The only name attached to the files are the owners of the property. Heck, my mom's house is 75% covered by the tree in front of it - even though they took the picture at an angle.

When I worked at the library, we used this site to look up people that did not have a ID with an address inside the county but owned property inside the county, which qualified them for a free library card.

Makes me wonder (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420075)

If there is a way once you detect someone attaching to your wireless network to fry their computer remotely

Re:Makes me wonder (1)

Elentari (1037226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420213)

You could pour boiling oil out of your window onto them, if they're the wait-outside-your-house-with-a-laptop variety.

Re:Makes me wonder (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420283)


If there is a way once you detect someone attaching to your wireless network to fry their computer remotely

1) Assign their machine an address via DHCP
2) ping machine with the evil bit set on the packet
3) ???
4) PROFIT!

Re:Makes me wonder (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420555)

I use squid in interception proxy mode to replace all their http GETs with goatse and lemonparty. They don't seem to stick around long after that.

Upload Copyrighted Music To Them . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18422093)

And the rat them out to the RIAA.

This just proves...... (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420089)

... That privacy no longer exists.

Re:This just proves...... (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420247)

Privacy never existed in public. Like it or not, broadcasting something over a radio is not the best way to make sure things stay away from the public.

hey (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420195)

Guess war chalking is obsolete now.

wifimaps.com anyone?? (1)

VorlonFog (948943) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420385)

http://www.wifimaps.com/ [wifimaps.com] - add MAC addresses and street addresses, and you're golden...

Apple vs. AOL... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420331)

Didn't Apple trademark "iSpy" for a new product?

Re:Apple vs. AOL... (1)

edsonmedina (134008) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422183)

Nope. Cisco did. :)

Noone loves me (3, Funny)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420425)

Noone ever connects to my wide open wireless with an SSID of "Honeypot".

 

you name your network after your girlfriend? (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420519)

Oh wait, this is slashdot. Nevermind.

Re:Noone loves me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18420835)

I'm happy Peter Noone [hoffmantalent.com] loves you, but I don't know why you feel you need to post about it on Slashdot.

Revealed? Huh? (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420449)

http://www.wigle.net/gps/gps/Map/onlinemap2/ [wigle.net]

it's been out there for a long time. Most people into war driving know about it.

Microsoft? (1)

trashpickinman (1078113) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420485)

So what database is being used by 'Microsofts Streets and Trips 2007' "Wi-Fi Location Provider"/"Locate Me" feature? Picked my location without hesitation.

WiFi Mapping (5, Interesting)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420509)

I am not surprised by this. In fact, having been the guy that started WiFiMaps.com [wifimaps.com] (In '02), I've been talking about this to others for quite a while now. Positioning yourself using wifi is probably the most useful application for wardriving data. Does it need to be accurate? No, not really. I've talked to scientists working on sub-meter acuracy, and it is very difficult. If you can find out on which part of which block, there are tons and tons and tons of location applets you can think of off the top of your head to make use of that. If there are people interested in a copy of our national (and some other countries) database of wifi locations, ours is GPL'd. What we don't have, is an all-in-one IM applet, which I guess Skyhook and AOL are now trying. Kudos. I sure wish I had some business skills. That can be the difference between the company's product as a topic on slashdot, and a dude at home posting on slashdot with no pants on.

Re:WiFi Mapping (3, Funny)

muellerr1 (868578) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421017)

That can be the difference between the company's product as a topic on slashdot, and a dude at home posting on slashdot with no pants on.
I'm at the office posting on slashdot with no pants on, you insensitive clod.

Re:WiFi Mapping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421041)

That can be the difference between the company's product as a topic on slashdot, and a dude at home posting on slashdot with no pants on.

And that, sir, is more information than we needed.

So who else will be buying it? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#18420641)

My bet is that this was funded by NSA, CIA or most likely FBI.

Re:So who else will be buying it? (1)

MisterCookie (991581) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422097)

My bet is that the government has better ways of getting data then sending some guys around in a truck to document wireless networks.

Wireless company name? (1)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421147)

What's wrong with companies, naming themselves after non-clever skynet euphemisms?

Skyhook Wireless? Come on.

Re:Wireless company name? (1)

donut1005 (982510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421313)

Damn, you beat me to it. :(

Typo in article (1)

donut1005 (982510) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421247)

That should read Skynet, not Skyhook

How did they crack my network!?! (1)

sarahlanephotography (1033158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421297)

The article says that they have the "unique ID" of my home network. This really disturbs me because, as I'm sure most of the rest of you have done, I have configured my network to prevent this. I run a Cisco aironet 1200 AP with 802.11i, AES encryption, as the only supported method, and my SSID is nondiscoverable until you've progressed through the encryption handshake. What is this "unique id" they managed to snarf? How did they break AES 256?

I've gotta say that's a remarkable attack!

Re:How did they crack my network!?! (1)

belrick (31159) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421685)


The article says that they have the "unique ID" of my home network. This really disturbs me because, as I'm sure most of the rest of you have done, I have configured my network to prevent this. I run a Cisco aironet 1200 AP with 802.11i, AES encryption, as the only supported method, and my SSID is nondiscoverable until you've progressed through the encryption handshake. What is this "unique id" they managed to snarf? How did they break AES 256?

I've gotta say that's a remarkable attack!

Are your not a troll?

Re:How did they crack my network!?! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421719)

Quick, someone make a "Your access point is broadcasting a MAC address" banner!

Re:How did they crack my network!?! (1)

Autonin (322765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421753)

I believe the item in question is called a *MAC address*.

You send a wireless packet of any kind, and there it is. In the clear. And it has to be, or they can't address packets back to you.

Re:How did they crack my network!?! (1)

sarahlanephotography (1033158) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421951)

I'm not sure if you're joking or not... Have you ever used an IOS Aironet device? Cron, expect, ssh, and the IOS command "mac-address" have served me well. Hint: don't believe the documentation.

A MAC address is not now, and never will be, a unique device identifier. ESPECIALLY on my network.

I just want to know how they cracked AES.

Re:How did they crack my network!?! (1)

RincewindTVD (1011435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421771)

I believe that the SSID is still viewable if you send a blanket "I am dissconnecting" notification, APs in the area will reply with a "thanks for dissconnecting from router" message.

I think I read something about that a while ago.

Re:How did they crack my network!?! (1)

kmankmankman2001 (567212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422403)

But my ID isn't unique! It's "Linksys", just like all my neighbors!

Microsoft Streets and Trips software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421343)

Has nobody mentioned yet that Microsoft Streets and Trips has had this built-in for years?

This will only end badly (1)

beerdini (1051422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421503)

AOL's recent announcement of their new "Near Me" service, which allows AIM users to see which of their instant messenger buddies are geographically near them.
You mean I can finally see where that 18/f really is...hey wait...thats the old guy down the street!

Seriously, what genius thought this was a good idea in the first place? How long is it going to be before the headlines read something like "Stalker kidnaps child with AIM"? I want to know how this idea got a green light considering the potential danger that it is going to create

You ain't seen nothing yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18421703)

Wait until IPv6 rolls out.

Not an accurate representation of what's going on (5, Insightful)

eggboard (315140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421721)

Here's what I wrote to the fine person who wrote the linked article, who I respect enormously, but think got it wrong in this case:

First, and sort of a priori, Wi-Fi uses unlicensed spectrum. The use of that spectrum means that you accept (however unknowingly, your point!) that any use treads in the public space. There are ways to reduce the signal strength of many Wi-Fi gateways if you want to penetrate further.

Second, what they're gathering is just a number (the BSSID [wikipedia.org] , which is the unique base station identifier for networks that are set to broadcast). They do not access the network. And they can't provide any kind of exact correlation. Nor is there a way to associate BSSIDs with individuals or addresses in their system or elsewhere. (It's also not all home networks; there are millions and millions of business networks also being recorded.)

Third, their data is their crown jewel. They have every interest in protecting it in the strongest possible ways. The information they release is a set of coordinates based on signals measured and sent via their system. So you can't really perform millions of arbitrary queries, but rather only queries mediated through their software. This limits exposure.

So you have no specific information based on public use of public spectrum and strong needs to protect the data against unwanted access...

Sounds fairly reasonable to me.

If they started pairing individual addresses with BSSIDs, and sold that to Wi-Fi makers and others who would then perform direct mailings to users to get them to switch brands or add security -- that would be creepy.

Re:Not an accurate representation of what's going (1)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422037)

Second, what they're gathering is just a number (the BSSID, which is the unique base station identifier for networks that are set to broadcast). They do not access the network. And they can't provide any kind of exact correlation. Nor is there a way to associate BSSIDs with individuals or addresses in their system or elsewhere. (It's also not all home networks; there are millions and millions of business networks also being recorded.)

Exactly. There is no harm in anyone knowing that the wi-fi access point near or at my physical address has such and such BSSID. It doesn't add to any tool set that would allow someone to monitor me or my activity. All it means is that someone passing through my neighborhood can find out where they are by listening for my and other's APs. These are merely just electronic landmarks that have been mapped out. The BSSID of my AP is never passed along the net in such a way that it could be used for tracing some packet back to my location.

The reaction to these should be "neat idea, I wonder if it will work" instead of paranoid hype about privacy.

If anyone can think of a way that some three letter agency could make use of that database to invade anyone's privacy, please spell out the details. The only thing that I can see is for marketers wanting to know the install base for D-link versus Linksys, etc. I suppose that Linksys could find that I'm using a D-link and send mail to my street address encouraging me to switch. But that is the worst I can imagine.

Re:Not an accurate representation of what's going (2, Informative)

Greg Lindahl (37568) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422295)

Nor is there a way to associate BSSIDs with individuals or addresses in their system or elsewhere.


Unless the SSID has the address in it, which I see that several of the networks around my apartment do. "shadows109" is apt 109 of the complex I live in, 1600villa_107 is unit 107 of the apartments at 1600 Villa street, and so on.

Re:Not an accurate representation of what's going (1)

eggboard (315140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422469)

You're right. (Although the BSSID is not equal to the SSID. The BSSID is typically the MAC address of the Wi-Fi system in the gateway; the SSID is default or human-set text.)

However, if someone chooses to expose their identity in the SSID, then aren't they making a statement already about their concern for privacy? I used to label our network with our street address, but my wife asked me to change it. It's now Generic Home Network. Actually, after a change in setup, it's Generic Heim Netzwerk.

Good for Router Business (1)

Wanado (908085) | more than 7 years ago | (#18421759)

Soon router manufacturers will recommend replacing your router every 6 months to keep your SSID fresh and unmapped. You'll find shops pop up across the country offering "router change" service for $19.95. Watch out for that hazardous disposal fee!

I was able to recover the currently slash-dotted article via google's cache:

Enormous Map of Wifi Servers - Including Yours! - Revealed by AOL and Skyhook Announcement 3/19/2007 -

Summary: Quite a few people have by now read about AOL's new Skyhook "Near Me" buddys plug-in. That's the plugin for the service which lets you know if any of your buddies are geographically near to you, and puts them in a "Near Me" buddies group. But what far fewer people realize is exactly how it works. How does it know when you are near one of your buddies? The answer may surprise - and concern - you.

Quite a few people have by now read about AOL's new Skyhook "Near Me" buddys plugin. That's the plug-in for the service which lets you know if any of your buddies are geographically near to you, and puts them in a "Near Me" buddies group.

But what far fewer people realize is exactly how it works. How does it know when you are near one of your buddies?

The answer may surprise - and concern - you.

The underlying technology is provided by Skyhook Wireless. According to news sources, Skyhook has spent the past several years "driving a fleet of 200 trucks up and down the streets of 2,500 cities and towns across the United States and Canada," mapping every single wireless router. Not just commercial hotspot routers. They openly admit that their trucks "scan for the pulse given off at least once a second by every home wireless router or commercial hotspot, recording the unique identifying code for that piece of Wi-Fi equipment."

Then, that code - of your home wireless router - "is correlated with the exact physical location where it was captured using GPS in the trucks, which cruise the streets at 15 to 50 miles (24 to 80 kilometers) per hour as they collect this information."

Just in case the picture isn't clear, let me paint it for you:

Skyhook's trucks have been cruising your street, have identified yourby its unique code that only your home wifi has - and is correlating it with your location using GPS.

And then they put it in a database

Yep, Skyhook has what has got to be the largest database of wifi access points - public and private - anywhere. According to reports, the database has 16 million wifi access points "covering an area where Skyhook says 70 percent of the U.S. population lives and six Canadian markets where the majority of that nation's people live." Including you.

Including your wireless router.

How do you feel about that?

Suddenly the issue of whether your computer is seeping data seems a lot more relevant, doesn't it?

Buglars Delight (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18422001)

Has anyone heard of a house being robbed because burglars found a wireless connection?

Is this a scheme by AOL Skyhook Wireless to sell more Wireless Routers?
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