US Cop Creates Gadget to Snoop out Stolen Gadgets

When we hear the phrase “US cop”, most of us probably think of a big guy hanging out in his police cruiser while stuffing his face with donuts and reading a boulevard magazine; we can thank Hollywood for that image. It is probably true that there are some of those too, but there are also some really bright people in the force.

An Iowa City police officer named David Schwindt has now invented a little USB gadget that can detect stolen gadgets by their Wi-Fi signals MAC address. The whole thing is rather simple and that is probably the beauty here. By using basic methods of publicly available data and comparing it with a database of stolen items, he’s able to not only detect that they are in range, but also in what direction they are located.

Officer Schwindt rigged a USB thumb drive with an antenna and cooked up his own software for it. Once connected to his squad car’s laptop, it is able to sniff out media access control addresses (MAC) within range and compare them to a database of stolen items.

MAC addresses are often called a burned-in address (BIA), an ethernet hardware address (EHA), or simply a “physical” address, because they are literally assigned (by the IEEE) and stamped into your network card by the company that manufactured your hardware.

Now, we all know that MAC addresses can be spoofed and often are for legitimate purposes as well as illegal. However, most people don’t think of that on their mobile gadgets as much as they do on PCs, and the L8NT gadget, as the author dubbed it, will most likely be highly effective.

The device has a range of 300 feet and a directional antenna can be attached to pinpoint specific devices located. The tool won’t be used to find the occasional stolen iPod or laptop and it won’t give the police access to personal or private information such as many other surveillance tools. It is more designed to find devices from larger series of break-ins and more bring down organized criminals that work in this field.

There will no doubt be cases where the officer’s L8NT system won’t work, but David Schwindt still has big plans for his device. It was developed as a proof of concept and he already got a provisional patent on the device and he is planning to apply for a full patent shortly.

Thank You Naked Security for providing us with this information

iOS8 to Include MAC Address Spoofing – Marketing Data Will be Heavily Affected

With Apple’s latest iOS8 platform drawing nearer and nearer to its release date – which even at this time is not confirmed (although we do estimate a date of around three months time), information regarding what the new OS will have featured is very much in the open.

Whilst Apple’s keynotes have displayed all of the latest and greatest features that users will have at their fingertips, information has been discovered which relates to user privacy and the way in which iOS 8 tackles this growing concern for some users. The adjustment that I’m referring to here comes down to the collection is user data when they are out in public and marketing analysts are scanning for data to help them build up a shoppers profile as part of market research. To collect data at the moment, information is collected through wireless networks – whether you are actively connected to them or not – and in particular the key piece of information that analysts are after is the devices MAC address – the unique identifier which is much like the chassis number on a car for example.

Now as the user is becoming more conscious of their privacy in the open world, there has been a growing demand to have this information withheld rather than being freely available. To combat this, Apple have introduced MAC spoofing into the latest iOS, which scrambles and masks the devices actual MAC address, resulting in false data being collected on the other end. What does this mean for the analysts? Simply put it means that, even with the collaboration of store inventory and video records, the whole integrity of their operation to build up a picture of the shopper is under threat – MAC spoofing results in false data and therefore false statistics.

As the awareness of user privacy continues to grow and the consumers demand grows on what data they share, Apple’s move has started what could be a massive turn in user privacy – and what will Apple users need to do? Simply update their phone to iOS 8 – that’s all.

Source: AppleInsider