May
20
2010
0

Inconclusive Interphone Study Results Announced

The biggest study ever into whether cellphones give you brain tumours has finally published something. After 10 years and $25 million plus US dollars it’s a …. maybe.

Some interpretations of the data look like cellphones absolutely protect against cancer, some show a small increased risk.

A lot of in-fighting has gone on within the group of scientists drawing the conclusions. Originally the Interphone study was going to be more wide ranging, and research was carried out into areas other than just increased risk of  glioma & meningioma. So Interphone actually has much more information in its’ vaults than has been released now. It will just take some scientists to agree what it all says and then that could be published too.

Here’s our interpretation: if you talk on a mobile or Dect phone for more than an hour every day you may well increase you risk of something (poor sleep perhaps)… If you don’t then you are abiding by the precautionary principle advocated by The Stewart Report of 2000.

Written by owner in: Uncategorized |
May
18
2010
0

Fuss Over Google Street View WiFi Data

Lots of interesting posts on The Register and other sites about Google’s collection of WiFi Router info while out taking photos of your road for their Street View project.

A couple of things need clearing up. Google have absolutely no use for your data traffic. They only want to know the unique MAC address in your router and the corresponding GPS position it was spotted at.

Whether you have an Open Network, WEP, WPA, WPA2 or any other more impressive encryption system in place is completely irrelevant to them for the purposes of this project. WiFi routers tend to sit in a static location.

Unless you turned Beacon Frames off, your router is announcing its presence to the world between 1 and 100 times a second (a great reason not to have that router next to your bed or office desk BTW).

They aren’t really interested in your PC’s MAC address, because it could be a laptop and they move around.

You could easily perform your own version of this experiment by driving around your local neighborhood with a laptop running Kismet and a GPS USB module attached. (Wardrive for the Google Nexus One smartphone does exactly the same thing & can be downloaded from the Android Market on your phone for free) There’s nothing overly clever about it and it certainly isn’t evil…

But when you take the unique MAC address of each WiFi router and it’s GPS position you do have a useful location marker, where a smartphone’s GPS is turned off but WiFi is available.

Google never need to show you the WiFi router address they spotted at a certain location – they just show you where you are.

I did read something today that suggested that Google never really authorised this and it was a lone engineer that fitted the project to the Street View car. That’s complete rubbish. The information they collected is freely available to anyone and doesn’t invade anyones privacy. Collecting it isn’t illegal and politicians are getting hot & bothered about it to fit their own political ends. The UK data registrar doesn’t have anything to be concerned about, and if he did then all the cell mast sites in the UK should be closed down immediately too!

Hope that clears up all the confusion. Google really have no interest in your home WiFi traffic, just the GPS position of your router.

Of course, people move house & also change their routers when they move internet providers, so the information they collected is only useful for a couple of years.

UPDATE
On the 19th Sergey Brin went on record as saying that they did collect some traffic data from open networks, but that it would be destroyed. The extra traffic gives them nothing tangible for the project, only the Mac address of the router & GPS location are useful.

I stand by my comments about the mobile phone networks being far more intrusive: the physical location of your mobile phone (and by default you) is recorded every 20 minutes & kept in a database for at least 12 months – great if you need an alibi, but if you’re that smart maybe you sent your phone out with someone else, doh!

Written by owner in: General,WiFi |
May
05
2010
0

Photocopiers – a Gold Mine for Identity Thieves.

I just read an interesting article about office photocopiers. All the larger models made post-2002 have hard drives inside them. Each time you copy a document it saves a copy to the internal hard drive.

Researchers were able to recover all sorts of business, legal, medical & personal information from a random sample of machines. Even if a machine has a wipe button it often just wipes the index and not the actual file from the drive.

Using the free Testdisk forensic recovery software you can most likely retrieve documents the same way you would from a PC’s hard drive or camera’s SD memory card.

Links:
CBS News Story & Testdisk

Written by owner in: Uncategorized |
May
01
2010
0

BBC Watchdog – Mobile Phone Text Message Spoofing

There was an interesting feature this week on BBC’s Watchdog programme about mobile phone text message spoofing. Two American researchers demonstrated how they are able to send fake MMS/Text messages that look like they’ve come from your bank to a smartphone.

This is a variation on phishing emails, but now on mobiles. All mobile network operators responded by saying that they weren’t aware of any real world use of this exploit that had so far left a single customer out of pocket – and they’re quite probably right. This seems like an awful lot of effort to go to if you want to get your hands on someones bank details & security passphrases.

I detailed on this site about 16 months ago that Dect cordless phones were now completely insecure. Anyone with a laptop, PCMCIA Com-On-Air Dect card & a decent antenna can record all you household phone calls from anywhere within a 200 metre radius of your home. Lots of older people now do home banking by telephone and over a series of calls you’ll be handing over full pins & security details. Even if you don’t give them to the bank you’ll be reusing them when you’re confirming your identity to insurance, utility & credit card providers – maybe you use that same 4 digit pin code for your home alarm & cashcard. Maybe you’re just paying for stuff with your credit card over the phone. If you live in a block of flats where tenants come and go every 6 months you’d be an easy target.

Ten years ago criminals could use an analogue radio scanner to record all the traffic on the old fashioned cordless home phones, perhaps to a computer for later analysis. They could use a DTFM decoder to figure out which number you’d called, and build up a profile that would leave them knowing you better than your best friend. Well now with the supposedly secure Dect phones they can take this further. Because each Dect phone has its own unique identifier – like the MAC address in your PC or the OUI number in a Bluetooth chip – it’s easy to zone out all the people you don’t want to listen to. Okay, only about half the Dect phones in use are insecure, but which half are you in? It’s not very reassuring is it? We’re nearly all using these Dect cordless phones at home these days.

Anyway, I saw not one article 16 months ago in the UK press or on TV about the Dect threat (although lots appeared in the German media), but now we need to worry about spoof texts. Go figure. If you really care about your health and security use a wired home phone.

As regards unusual text messages from your bank, apply some common sense – if it looks wrong, it’s because it is wrong. Wait until you get home and log onto your account there. Don’t ring numbers or use web links in these messages. Open a new browser window & check your balance from your 3G phone that way.

Pop into the bank and ask them about the real state of your account. If money diasappears from your account by a fraud that’s not your fault they’ll be giving you that money back anyway.

Smartphones are like mini PCs and they can get infected with malware and other nastiness, just like your home PC (for instance it’s now quite common for untrusting partners to secretly install tracking software on their partners smartphones to keep tabs on your whereabouts with GPS accuracy).

BBC Watchdog Story

Written by owner in: 3G,DECT,General,GSM |

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