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.

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 admin in: General,WiFi |

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 admin in: 3G,DECT,General,GSM |

Microsoft Wireless Keyboards Hacked, Now Insecure.

Security researchers unveiled a $100 hardware & software package capable of reading traffic from the wireless data stream generated by Nordic Semiconductor chipset devices. This chipset is used by Microsoft’s wireless keyboards and they are now believed to be vulnerable to attack.

No need to go inside a building to plant an old fashioned keylogger, just point a yagi antenna at the building you’re interested in. If our own experience with low-power Bluetooth devices is anything to go by, then you could easily be reading keystrokes from several hundred metres away with the right directional antenna.

It’s thought that Logitech keyboards are safe for now as they use AES encryption. The Microsoft keyboards use a simpler XOR encryption scheme. You should also be wary of those cheap £20 wireless keyboard and mouse packs too.

The project has been christened ‘Keykeriki’, apparently it’s German for ‘Cock-a-Doodle-Do’.

There’s talk of a software version for owners of the USRP. Otherwise circuit diagrams and download firmware are available from the links below.

Written by admin in: Bluetooth,General,WiFi |

Linus Torvalds Thinks The Googlephone is a Winner.

The reports that Linus Torvalds has finally found a Linux phone that he likes.

Previously, he’d tried earlier versions of Android phones and hadn’t really got along with them. Like me, he finds using them for just calls annoying.

A bit like me, he thinks that the Googlephone is the first real practical pocket-sized PC. At last you can do all your computer stuff on the move without lugging around a laptop. Of course Linus has more reason to be proud, because the Googlephone is running the very software he pioneered. I can’t make any such claim, but it’s nice to know that he too can see what’s really revolutionary amongst all the hype & tripe!

If the Nexus One is going to conquer the world it’s got to start with computer nerds like Linus. These are the people that will build all the cool open-source stuff that will drag in all the sheep that currently can’t imagine anything more exciting than an iPhone.

Written by admin in: General |

Google Nexus One Software Update Goes Well For Me

I read on the internet that Google would be releasing a software update for the Nexus One. Sure enough when I checked my phone this morning the update was available. All applied without any problems.

I now have working voice-2-text, iPhone-style browser pinch controls, and no more wandering off 3’s 3G service onto Orange’s 2G GSM network. Hurrah!

Photo of Tim's N1 Nexus One Smartphone - and a plug for showing the same site
If you’ve ever wondered how the screen resolutions of the Nexus One N1 & the iPhone 3G compare, when viewing the same site, now you can see. I know the iPhone looks a little smaller in the photos, but in reality they’re almost the same size. The screen resolution of the iPhone 3G is 480×320 pixels and the N1 is 800×480.

Written by admin in: General |

internet use linked to depression study

Today I hear that a study has found a link between depression & excessive internet usage.

The researchers aren’t really sure whether depressed people seek to spend all their spare time on the internet or whether using the internet obsessively gives you depression.

If you’ve read previous posts on this site, you’ll have seen studies that have showed that using wireless gadgets an hour before bedtime can ruin your sleep quality. It’s hardly a big jump to conclude that most of the young generation will be doing that surfing over a WiFi router from their laptop or netbook. After all, it’s only a tin-foil-hat-wearing 40 year old like myself that would use a wired router! For the record, I spend hours on the internet using my wired router and I feel excellent!

So, my clarion call to all you internet junkies who are feeling low is this: buy a cheap wired ADSL router (for around a £1 on eBay) and use a wired connection to your laptop. If your existing wireless router can have its WiFi beacon turned off (in its setup menu) you could just use it in wired mode instead. Of course it could be your Dect wireless phone that’s making you feel rubbish, or your mobile phone if you spend hours with it jammed up to your head.

If you use your mobile a lot, try sticking to just texting. If talking on your phone use it near a window, in handsfree mode – because the mobile transmits on lower power near a window and every time you double the distance of the handset from your head you halve the absorbed radiation (inverse square law – assuming it’s the power output and not other signal characteristics that could trouble electrosensitives).

A lot of people say that the really bad thing is to have your mobile in your pocket – kills sperm etc etc. Generally speaking this is complete rubbish. A regular mobile phone that is sitting waiting for calls will only contact the mast every 20 minutes or so for a 10 second burst. Compare that against holding it next to your head for an hour while talking on it.

Far, far worse in my opinion is a situation where you have your desk at home with a laptop, WiFi router and a Dect phone all sat just a few feet away from your head. That WiFi router is constantly beaming out 2.4GHz beacon frames ten times a second, whether you’re using the network or not – even if you’re connected via a wired RJ45 patch cable. That Dect base station (which plugs into the BT wall socket) phone is also beaming out a 1.9GHz carrier signal 24/7 – again, often just feet away from your head. Of course you can’t ‘hear’ this, or ‘see’ it, but there’s now plenty of proper scientific evidence that it has a real effect on biological tissue (compare this to say god or homeopathy, millions believe in both of those) It makes you wonder how anybody can concentrate on anything anymore, without resort to anti-depressants, cigarettes, alcohol or class A narcotics.

So many nice middle class families seem to feel that the height of sophistication is having a BT Home Hub. That’s a Dect phone & a WiFi router in one, if you didn’t know. I feel really sorry for them.

The author of this site does use some wireless gadgets (and has been playing about with breadboard electronics since he was 9 years old), but he’s very aware of what they put out and won’t entertain his home being cloaked in a constant blanket of electrosmog – which is what that precious WiFi router & Dect phone give you.

Ask yourself why the latest models of Dect phones feature Eco modes that only transmit when they’re in use… Ask yourself why they’re marketed on their power-saving abilities… Ask yourself, could they market that same phone on the low-radiation angle? Of course they can’t, that’s like saying “Our old model Dect made you feel ill, but this one won’t, quite as much…”. Never going to happen. The power savings over a year probably amount to £1. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Eco Dect phones are a great idea for people I like, but if you still spend hours talking on one (having read all of this) you’re beyond help!


Here’s some maths for you Eco Dect phone lovers who want to reduce your carbon footprints. The power supply that comes with my Siemens C385 Gigaset Eco Dect phone is rated at 6.5V and 600mA. So if we multiply the Voltage by Ampage we get Watts 6.5 X 0.6 = 3.9 watts per hour. A 1KW/h unit of electricity costs about 11p. So 11p runs the phone in full power mode for 256 hours, which is 10.68 days. Lets assume it costs 1p per day to run the phone in non-Eco Mode. It costs about £3.75 to power the phone for a year using just the ratings from the power supply.

Come back in the next few days and i’ll compare current drawn in regular and Eco Plus modes. Remember though, even if the phone uses no electricity in Eco+ mode the maximum you can save is £3.75!

Written by admin in: General |

Google Nexus One is a Super Duper Trip Computer.

I’m now into my second week as a Nexus One owner. The phone still works great and I intend to keep it , rather than sell it on for a little profit.

Last week I was looking at some of the Garmin Trek devices and seeing if they do a bike computer for keeping logs of my rides. Now I own a Nexus One there’s no need to waste money on such a device. As you’ll know the Nexus One has GPS built-in and full integration with Google Maps.

If you visit Android Market on your phone and search for My Tracks you’ll be able to download a very capable walking, running & cycling trip computer – best of all, it’s free.

Using My Tracks I’ve been able to verify that my much less capable handlebar-mounted trip computer is set correctly. My Tracks records my average speed, fastest speed, and a chart showing the elevation. Also, because My Tracks interfaces so easily with your whole Google account, it’s a doddle to upload your tracks from the phone to their server.

Screengrab below is from my PC:

Screengrab of Nexus One My Tracks output on a PC

Written by admin in: General |

Google Nexus One Superphone – iPhone Beater.

Earlier this week I took delivery of a new Google Nexus One phone.

I’ve never bought an off-contract expensive smartphone before, but several things about this offering made it irresistible. Firstly, the display runs at twice the resolution of the iPhone, so web browsing is a much more pleasant experience.

Secondly, everything feels much more immediate than on an iPhone – no processor lag. Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is a great consumer appliance. But the Nexus One really does bring your PC to your pocket. If you use Googlemail to filter out all your spam emails at home or office, then it’s simple to synchronise your mail account on your phone.

Something I’m personally quite interested in is being able to view CCTV cameras via my phone. With the Nexus One’s high resolution display this works much better than on the lower resolution iPhone.

Here are a few observations about unboxing & initial setup of the Nexus One:

I bought the Nexus One off-contract direct from Google USA. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t work with my ‘Three’ network Sim card, at various points while I waited for it to arrive. I know that the 3G networks in the UK work at 2100MHz, and i’d seen in Google’s FAQ that this was one of the supported bands, so I was hopeful.

When the Nexus One arrived I put in my ‘3’ Sim and was able to make and receive calls. I put my Electrosmog Detector next to it, and was able to tell from the noises it made that the phone was talking to the tower over proper 3G rather than GSM via Orange. Thing was, I couldn’t get a 3G connection to the net using a web browser.

After a little digging I realised that I needed to setup an APN for ‘3’ in the phone’s settings Menu. Here’s how to do it:

Go to Settings –> Wireless & Networks –> Mobile Networks –> Access Point Names –> Double-Click and hold the ‘four bars’ icon to the right of the back key at the base of the phone –> click New APN –> Name=3G –> –> Proxy, Port, Username, Password, Server can be left as they are –> MMSC= –> MMS Proxy= –> MMS Port=8799 –> MCC=234 –> Authentication Type and APN Type can be left blank.

Of course the real pull of this phone for hacker-types is the Linux Kernel. These Android OS phones can be ‘Rooted’ so you can take fully control of the device. before you know it you could have Snapdragon compiled versions of Kismet & Wireshark running on your phone.


Alzheimer’s Mice Cured by GSM Mobile Phone Signals

Headline says it all…

Mice with a mini GSM mast

First of all, a couple of years ago a story said that students who were exposed to GSM mobile phone signals for an hour performed better on exam test papers. An industry spokesman dismissed the result as ‘no worse than a cup of coffee’.

Last January researchers found that using a mobile an hour before bedtime wrecks sleep quality. (Full Story)

This January, mice with Alzheimer’s are cured by exposure to a regular mobile phone signal for two one-hour periods each day for seven to nine months. (Full Story)

The important thing to bear in mind here is that the World Health Organisation and the mobile phone industry have insisted for years that any phone that doesn’t heat tissue can’t have any biological effect on a human being – this is what they mean when they quote ICNIRP guidelines.

It’s become quite obvious, over the past two years, that subtle effects do occur in our bodies when exposed to quite low levels of RF – well under the levels given out by cordless Dect phones, WiFi routers & mobiles. Some people feel quite ill when exposed to pulsed RF, although most people don’t (think of photosensitive epileptics and strobing lights).

Here at we believe the effects of RF on the body are cumulative, that’s to say, once you become electrosensitive it can take months or years of no exposure for you to get back to feeling your old self.

You can take action today. If you must use a Dect cordless phone, go for one of the Siemens Eco+ Dect models (£25) which only transmit when you are actually on a call. Also, you can turn off your WiFi router’s beacon signal too (£0). Doing just those two things will remove the permanent blanket of electrosmog that most homes are now cloaked in. Better still, go back to using a corded phone & router.

Written by admin in: General |

Microwave News, Interphone & Mike Repacholi

I’ve been trying to figure out how to best sum up the state of play regarding mobile phones, Dect, Wifi & human health at the close of 2009.

The start of this year saw studies that showed that exposure to EMFs can wreck your sleep. You can test this theory for yourself by plugging in your WiFi router & Dect Phone’s Main Base right next to your bed. About 10% of you should should suffer sleep deprivation, or perhaps just really weird dreams.

Next up, unplug your WiFi router and Dect base at night. Did you notice a difference? Are you sleeping better? is one of your kids now sleeping better? If you live near a Mobile/Tetra mast you might not be so lucky. Of course, a really close neighbour’s WiFi & Dect can cause Electrosmog in your home too. It could be a wheat intolerance or any one of a hundred different things that are suddenly making you feel s**t. But it really could be a source of pulsed EMF too.

Back to the original heading. Microwave News reports that the battle goes on. Mike Repacholi has taken wages from the Cellphones-cause-no-harm lobby for some years, and everyone out there knows that. Dozens of other scientists do also every day. It doesn’t matter one bit, the truth will eventually out. At worst i’ll just have been wrong, and have spent my time writing about something that I find interesting!

For years scientists struggled against entrenched money interests to bring down BIG-Tobacco. Some would say they still haven’t. But most people now agree that smoking tobacco will shorten your life. For many years the Power companies insisted that living under power lines didn’t give you Leukemia. Most people now believe they do…

My argument is not that cellphones give you cancer. My argument is that daily exposure to excessive EMFs (mostly from Dect cordless phones & WiFi routers) will leave you fuzzy minded and ruin your mood. Ultimately sending you to your GP asking for Antidepressants – which might make you feel better in the short-term , but won’t fix the cause of your low serotonin long-term. Also, you could end up at your GP asking them to medicate your kids with Ritalin or some other lovely concoction. Turn off all your EMF crap and get them outside in the fresh air! Now!

I even see the proliferation of EMF emitting gadgets as the possible cause for the obesity epidemic. Not that EMF’s contain any calories, obviously they don’t. But if being in a situatiuon that leads you to feel not quite yourself and mildly uncomfortable, could lead you to comfort eat without really understanding why. All experiments that need to be done by truly independent scientists at some point in the near future. In the mean time just turn off all your Wireless gadgets… For your childrens sake.

Peace & Love. Roll On 2010.

Written by admin in: General |

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