After reviewing the data, we purged it.
What Does WiFi on a Cell Phone Do? | It Still Works
However, it consistently broadcast the same MAC address in any mode, making it passively trackable. The Passport sent out a probe requests for networks by name, in the order that they had been added as known networks. The results were not surprising to us, but they are still eye-opening, and indicative of the security and privacy risks that result from wandering around with Wi-FI turned on but not connected.
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We were able to match specific devices with recent and some not really recent movements of the owners of the phones—where they worked, where their homes were, and in some cases where they had shopped recently—using publicly available Wi-Fi base station mapping data. When Google collected Wi-Fi data using its Street View cars , it kicked off a wave of concern over privacy in many countries.
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After the privacy flap over its data collection, Google still collects Wi-Fi base station MAC addresses and SSID names—the names users assign to their routers to identify them from devices—but now offers a way for owners of Wi-Fi hotspots to opt out of its database. Apple also collects Wi-Fi network data. And both Google and Apple no longer have to depend on wandering mapping vehicles to collect their data for them—they can just turn the mobile phones of their customers into little wandering signals intelligence platforms.
There are a variety of public and private databases of Wi-Fi network geolocation data—some private and some public.
How to Access Wi-Fi on an Android Phone
Odds are, if you live in a relatively densely populated area, your Wi-Fi network has already been mapped by someone. In all cases, the probe requests have eliminated a major problem that was exposed in our original coverage of smartphone SSID shouting—giving up the actual BSSID, or MAC address, of the base station they were looking for. However, all of the phones gave up extensive lists of SSIDs in probe requests.
With that sort of profile, just from a brief burst of wireless traffic, an attacker would be able to screen a group of smartphones for potential targets, and attempt to execute a man-in-the-middle attack on a target phone by spoofing one of its known networks. Did not find what you're looking for?
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