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Thursday, March 13, 2008

The walls have ears

Well, not really ears. Actually, they are rather sticky. Funny thing about walls, laps, couches, silk flowers, etc. Wireless waves seem to pass through them albeit not always very well. With your laptop in the living room and your wireless model in the family room, by some miracle and magic, your computer can talk to the modem and then the rest of the world. Most everyone these days knows that wireless connections are everywhere. Many people know that these signals are passing through them, the walls and everything around them. You are even being bombarded with your neighbors wireless signals.

While playing around with some electronics that detect very, very fain signals, I kept experiencing some weird interference. I assumes there were wireless signals bombarding me from all angles. I shut down my routers, my cordless phones and my cell phones and used my laptop to search for other wireless networks. Luckily none were detected. I could not detect anything. Standing in the middle of my room, I seemed to be free of all the wireless noised that are bombarding us.

As I measures things like the leakage from outlets and such, I happened to pass the detector across the wall that separated the living room from the family room. I was detecting some very faint signatures of something. After searching for some some, the signal seemed to disappear. This was pretty odd. I tried again and nothing! So, I fired up my laptop and wireless router and did some online work. After shutting them both off, I happened to test for the signal again. There it was again. Not much of a signal but more like some residual energy from something.

I was really wishing I had some better hear to use, but managed to tweak what I had just enough to figure out that I was seeing faint residuals of the wireless signal between my laptop and the router. It seemed that the most detectable traces were from the far side of the wall. I determined that the wireless signal was somehow captured in the wall materials as it passed through. I was able to reassemble fragmented bits of data from the communication session. Of course the packets were encrypted so I could not see the actual data. Not only is my equipment is insufficient to extract much data but I just hack at these kind of things and am not really much of an expert. Still , it was an exciting find that I had a lot of fun with. Even knowing the encryption keys and learning how the wireless network implements security, I was never able to read any packets. I am sure there are folks out there who are much smarter and have better gear that are are capable of scanning your walls from the outside and reading the packets from the objects around you. I just hope they don't know about this yet.

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