Often we don’t care about WiFi, Bluetooth, mobile data, etc., in our smartphones, if it’s turned ON or Off. This may act against you to get spied as engineers now find it possible to see through walls using WiFi of smart devices.
The technology which we can’t live without in our day to day lives – WiFi may turn against paving a way to spy on you. Exploiting WiFi networks of an area, it’s now possible to see through the walls of a building – to spy, engineers had forged. And engineers have used drone to make that happen.
A team of engineers and researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada have developed a drone that has the ability to see through walls. Well, not exactly but sort of. The drone uses WiFi networks, to locate WiFi – enabled devices and create a map of sorts to position each device within a room, thereby guessing the layout of the room roughly.
Called by the name ‘Wi-Peep’, the drone works by utilizing the WiFi network of a specific area that it’s close to, and locate the WiFi-enabled devices in the area. The operator will get the drone near to a building as close as possible and run a program for locating the WiFi devices.
Wi-Peep exploits the security flaw of WiFis called ‘polite WiFi’ loophole, whose actual purpose is letting you to transfer files to your computer or another phone seamlessly. This also lets you to make calls in your WiFi-only smartwatch.
The drone leverages this loophole and sends out several signals as it flies around and then measures the response time from each of electronic devices that uses WiFi, allowing it to identify its location. Devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, speakers that uses WiFi fall into this vulnerability. With this, hackers can locate and track devices with an accuracy of 3.3 feet or less than a meter.
“The Wi-Peep devices are like lights in the visible spectrum, and the walls are like glass,” explains Dr. Ali Abedi, an adjunct professor of computer science at Waterloo. “Using similar technology, one could track the movements of security guards inside a bank by following the location of their phones or smartwatches. Likewise, a thief could identify the location and type of smart devices in a home, including security cameras, laptops, and smart TVs, to find a good candidate for a break-in.”
What can you do to not get Spied?
The team said that as this is a flaw in WiFi chip, the chip manufacturers will have to modify the way how devices interact via WiFi, by incorporating random variation in response times. If the signals return randomly, the method cannot accurately calculate a device’s position.
Albeit, this isn’t in our hands. For the common people, it’s advisory to simply turn off the WiFi when not in use. Nothing much. Also, ensure that your smartphone’s WiFi not switches on automatically if it detects any WiFi hotspots, as some devices do so. You can do that by heading to WiFi settings in your phone and toggling off “Turn on Wi-Fi automatically” option.
Technology – the savior and enhancer of 21st Century after the advent of smartphones and smart gadgets, now digs deeper to exploit the fullest for the benefit of the creator. Tech devices have become increased the vulnerability of humans in certain aspects like privacy and security concerns and they pose a need to be regulated of owning and operating.
And this isn’t the first time of being able to see through walls. Israeli scientists have already unveiled a device that sees through a wall after fitting it against a wall for knowing the room’s outline, layout and humans’ movements on the other side of the wall.
These techs though may have advantages over its use on particular applications, like in military and defense agencies, it would become tiresome if legalized to own by everyone. As there never exists any centralized regulatory body for analyzing the possible outcomes and vulnerabilities of a device, they might get exploited as a weapon of tech.
Since we are at the birth time of these devices, let’s hope that tech gets a formalized body in future.