Worried About Privacy And Geolocation? Maybe You Should Be!

A computer hacker called Samy Kamkar has found a way to exploit routers so that they allow him to find out exactly where you are, after you have visited a booby-trapped website. The hack takes advantage of the way routers deal with ID requests and allows the hacker to find out a key ID number.

With this number he uses commonly accessible internet tools to pinpoint the exact location of the router, and so knows your exact location.

A lot of the computers that people use to access the internet have routers built in, normally only the computer itself can connect to the router and get key information from it. But Samy, using his booby-trapped website, tricks your computer and requests the ID number.

Using this ID number, also known as a Mac address, Samy coupled it with a geolocation tool in the Firefox browser. He could then manipulate the Google database, which was created when Google was building its street view facility. Using the information collected by Google’s street view cars and the Mac address from the routers, Samy could pinpoint the routers location down to a few metres.

Geolocation has taken a recent boom with the introduction of applications like Facebook Places and Foursquare, which has instantly thrown up security fears. But this new information based on routers and Google’s street view means that even if you aren’t signed up to Facebook Places or Foursquare, you can still be targeted and found.

Potential burglars or stalkers could use this information to commit crimes without you ever knowing anything, until its too late. This calls for Google’s street view and other similar databases to step up on their security, as this information can easily be interpreted by criminals and used by them for their gain.

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Heather Buckley is Director and co-founder of IT and business training providers Silicon Beach Training. Founded in 1999, Silicon Beach Training run public-scheduled training courses in their Brighton Training Centre as well as bespoke on-site courses worldwide. Popular courses include Social Media Training, Photoshop Training and PRINCE2 Training, which has recently been launched in Birmingham. Heather writes on the Silicon Beach Training blog with a focus on IT, Project Management and Social Media as well as offering Photoshop knowledge from her experience as a photographer.