Category Archives: wi-fi

Researchers train drones to use Wi-Fi to look through walls

 A new system by University of California, Santa Barbara researchers Yasamin Mostofi and Chitra R. Karanam uses two drones, a massive Wi-Fi antenna, and a little interpolation to literally see through solid walls. The system is two-fold. The one drone blasts Wi-Fi through the structure and another picks up the signal. Then, working in tandem, the two drones fly around the solid structure until… Read More

Comcast invests in mesh router maker Plume, launches Xfinity xFi for managing your home’s wireless network

 Comcast this morning has launched a new service called Xfinity xFi that will allow customers to better manage and control their home Wi-Fi network through an online dashboard, voice control via the TV, as well as through apps for iOS and Android devices. The system is designed to make it easier to perform common tasks, like finding the Wi-Fi password or monitoring activity across the network,… Read More

goTenna Series B fuels vision to make local communication possible anywhere on the planet

 Founded in 2012 with the small goal of enabling connectivity-free communication, goTenna has ballooned to over 23 employees and delivered real hardware to market in the process. Today the startup is adding another $7.5 million to its coffers in the form of a Series B led by Union Square Ventures. goTenna’s full suite of products effectively convert phones into walkie-talkies, allowing… Read More

Android devices can be fatally hacked by malicious Wi-Fi networks

Enlarge (credit: IntelFreePress)

A broad array of Android phones are vulnerable to attacks that use booby-trapped Wi-Fi signals to achieve full device takeover, a researcher has demonstrated.

The vulnerability resides in a widely used Wi-Fi chipset manufactured by Broadcom and used in both iOS and Android devices. Apple patched the vulnerability with Monday's release of iOS 10.3.1. "An attacker within range may be able to execute arbitrary code on the Wi-Fi chip," Apple's accompanying advisory warned. In a highly detailed blog post published Tuesday, the Google Project Zero researcher who discovered the flaw said it allowed the execution of malicious code on a fully updated 6P "by Wi-Fi proximity alone, requiring no user interaction."

Google is in the process of releasing an update in its April security bulletin. The fix is available only to a select number of device models, and even then it can take two weeks or more to be available as an over-the-air update to those who are eligible. Company representatives didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment for this post.

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Shielding MAC addresses from stalkers is hard and Android fails miserably at it

Enlarge (credit: Christiaan Colen)

In early 2015, architects of Google's Android mobile operating system introduced a new feature that was intended to curtail the real-time tracking of smartphones as their users traversed retail stores, city streets, and just about anywhere else. A recently published research paper found that the measure remains missing on the vast majority of Android phones and is easily defeated on the relatively small number of devices that do support it.

Like all Wi-Fi-enabled devices, smartphones are constantly scanning their surroundings for available access points, and with each probe, they send a MAC—short for media access control—address associated with the handset. Throughout most of the history of Wi-Fi, the free exchange of MAC addresses didn't pose much threat to privacy. That all changed with the advent of mobile computing. Suddenly MAC addresses left a never-ending series of digital footprints that revealed a dizzying array of information about our comings and goings, including what time we left the bar last night, how many times we were there in the past month, the time we leave for work each day, and the route we take to get there.

Eventually, engineers at Apple and Google realized the potential for abuse and took action. Their solution was to rotate through a sequence of regularly changing pseudo-random addresses when casually probing near-by access points. That way, Wi-Fi devices that logged MAC addresses wouldn't be able to correlate probes to a unique device. Only when a phone actually connected to a Wi-Fi network would it reveal the unique MAC address it was tied to. Apple introduced MAC address randomization in June 2014, with the release of iOS 8. A few months later, Google's Android operating system added experimental support for the measure. Full implementation went live in March 2015 and is currently available in version 5.0 through the current 7.1; those versions account for about two-thirds of the Android user base.

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From your dorm room to your car: ethernet is back

Ethernet cable Wi-Fi, DSRC, Bluetooth, NFC — there are so many ways to connect without cables that ethernet seems retro, like a flip phone. But ethernet is staging a comeback in our cars. Manufacturers are using this old-school technology to connect the sensors that allow for advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) and baby steps toward self-driving cars. Read More