Tag: Wi-Fi

Android phones vulnerable to booby trapped wi-fi signals

 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. Before anyone claims it was poor Android programming, the Fruity Cargo-Cult Apple was also vulnerable to the hack but patched the vulnerability with Monday’s release of iOS 10.3.1.

The Google Project Zero researcher Gal Beniamini who discovered the flaw said that an attacker within range may be able to execute arbitrary code on the wi-fi chip.

In a highly detailed blog post Apple said that the flaw  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. The proof-of-concept exploit uses wi-fi frames that contain irregular values.

The values, in turn, cause the firmware running on Broadcom’s wireless system-on-a=chip to overflow its stack. By using the frames to target timers responsible for carrying out regularly occurring events such as performing scans for adjacent networks, Beniamini managed to overwrite specific regions of device memory with arbitrary shellcode.

Beniamini’s code does nothing more than write a benign value to a specific memory address. Attackers could obviously exploit the same series of flaws to surreptitiously execute malicious code on vulnerable devices within range of a rogue access point.

Quake rescuers ask people to open their wi-fi

_90923088_034949329-1Quake rescuers searching for survivors in the Italian quake have asked for people in the area to disable the passwords to their wi-fi.

The Italian Red Cross says residents’ home networks can assist with communications during the search for survivors.

On Wednesday a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy and killed more than 240 people.

More than 4,300 rescuers are looking for survivors believed to still be trapped in the rubble.

The Italian Red Cross posted a step-by-step guide which explains how local residents can switch off their wi-fi network encryption.

Image caption The Italian Red Cross has published a step-by-step guide on how to remove wi-fi passwords

Similar requests have been made by the National Geological Association and Lazio Region.

Normally opening a home wi-fi network is risky but added that those concerns are trivial in the context of the rescue operation. The risk is that a hacker might potentially has access to certain devices and files.

However that is nothing compared to the risk of people dying because rescuers can’t get a decent wi-fi signal. Besides what sort of psycho goes to a town like Amatrice so they can launch a cyber-attack on someone else.

ABC suspends hack over “wi-fi cooked my brain” story

img_3797The Aussie ABC science program Catalyst is under review after the second major breach of editorial standards in several years after the programme churned out another Facebook-style conspiracy story.

The Corporation’s independent Audience and Consumer Affairs unit has found a story on the safety of Wi-Fi was in breach of editorial policies on accuracy and impartiality.

The problem centres on a story Catalyst aired Wi-Fried about the safety of wireless devices such as mobile phones. Basically the item churned out the sort of conspiracy nonsense about wi-fi’s cooking your brain which you expect to see on Facebook, along with fantasies about Chem trails.

This is the second time Catalyst’s programming has dumbed itself down by ignoring science to push Facebook style conspiracy theories. The Audience and Consumer Affairs Unit found a story aired in October 2013 on statins and heart disease was not up to standards of impartiality.

The person responsible for both programmes was Dr Maryanne Demasi. She has been apparently suspended from on-air reporting until the review of Catalyst is completed in September.

Dr Demasi is making no comment but she did defend the broadcast in the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/maryanne-demasi/sometimes-asking-questions-provides-you-with-answers-that-may-be-uncomfortable_b_9267642.html claiming that sometimes you have to ask questions.

“Catalyst was accused of scaremongering. It’s an overused term. It’s routinely used in politics to dismiss opposition policies. Reporting on terrorist threats, the Zika virus and crime sprees could also be argued to cause anxiety among the general population. But it’s a price we’re all willing to pay for free and diverse speech,” she said.


Ofcom launches wi-fi checker

wi-fi symbolThe regulatory authority in charge of communications here in the UK has introduced an app for smartphones and tablets that will check their wi-fi connection.

The Ofcom Wi-Fi checker tests the quality of your wi-fi and also provides guidance on how to improve signals.

Research it released today shows over five million UK homes could improve their signal.

In a statement, it said that broadband can be slowed by fairy lights, microwave ovens, baby monitors and even a lamp.

The app is available for both iOS and Android, via the Apple app store and Google Play.

In separate news, Ofcom said that rural areas are still badly off for broadband speed. But BT is testing speeds in Swansea using G.fast, that can motor along at as much as 500Mbps.

Li-Fi could ratchet up comms speed

Twilight of the Gods, Arthur Packham - Wikimedia CommonsA report said that an Estonian startup has tested technology that can transfer data at one gigabit per second.

The company, called Velmenni, has built a lightbulb which uses so called Li-Fi, and it’s 100 times faster than wi-fi, according to the International Business Times.

Li-fi enables visible light communications (VLC) technology, a bi-directional communications system which also offers better security than wi-fi and with less interference.

Li-fi was suggested by a German physicist Harald Haas, and implemented by a startup he created called pureLiFi.

Earlier this week, pureLiFi struck a deal with a French company to produce VLC tech by the third quarter of next year.

Wi-fi wins in shops

wi-fi symbolLocation applications in shops will be worth $2.5 billion in 2020, and based on wi-fi, largely because of the huge installed base of smartphones.

ABI Research said that BLE beacons have become the flavour of the day but wi-fi has an unparalleled reach.

Shops will use wi-fi because of its superior penetration and will be used by major chains as an aid to analytics, ABI said.

Patrick Connolly, a principal analyst at the firm, said that 802.11mc and wi-fi aware are much more accurate than existing wi-fi standards.

He said: “Most access point vendors have developed their own high accuracy algorithms to compete with other indoor technologies.

“Wi-fi Aware has long term potential in a lot of markets, but there is very little for retail technology companies to hang their hats on today.”

He said leading edge startups are hybridising wi-fi with BLE camera analytics and that gives a big potential for proximity advertising and “loyalty rewards”.

Apple sued over Wi-Fi assist bill shocks

poison-appleFruity cargo cult Apple has been dragged to court for failing to warn its users that its new Wi-Fi assist feature would end up gouging their phone bill.

In the complaint, which aims to be a class action, plaintiffs William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips allege that because of costs related to Wi-Fi Assist, the “overall amount in controversy exceeds” $5 million.

Once users update to iOS 9, Wi-Fi Assist is turned on by default. Apple believed that it ensures a smooth Internet experience by switching to mobile data in the event that the user is connected to a weak Wi-Fi signal.

The problem is that it switches over to mobile data when there is enough decent wi-fi available, often when users are in their own homes.

The complaint claims Apple did not properly explain Wi-Fi Assist on its website until only after a “flood of articles” were written about unintended mobile data use. For the plaintiffs, that addition to the website was too little, too late.

“Defendant’s above corrective action, however, still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur,” the suit reads. “Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications — all of which can use significant data. Defendant’s corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage.”

The suit states that the plaintiffs incurred overuse charges on both of their iPhone 5s units after upgrading to iOS 9. It did not say exactly how much those charges were, but asserts that the plaintiffs and the class were misled about mobile data usage on their devices.

Apple is accused of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law, the state’s False Advertising Law, and of negligent misrepresentation.

The Tame Apple Press is furious of course. Apparently all you have to turn off the wi-fi assist is open the Settings app and choose Cellular, then scroll to the bottom to find the off toggle button. The option is missing on some older Apple devices, including the iPhone 4S, the iPad 2, and the first-generation iPad mini.

Of course you have to know that to turn it off and also many Apple fanboys will never turn off any functionality believing that Apple knows what is good for them.


Hi-Tech cars rejected by users

tv-carHopes that the car industry might save tech outfits received a blow after it was revealed that car users are not that interested in hi-tech gadgets.

While carmakers are adding everything from remote car unlocking to self-parking systems in their newest models as they try to make vehicles more connected to the internet and more automated, users are not interested.

The 2015 Drive Report from market research company JD Power found that 20 percent of new car owners had still not used approximately half of the technology features available in their vehicles after three months of purchase – the period after which drivers are less likely to adopt new features.

The most underused feature was in-vehicle concierge systems that can recommend nearby restaurants or gas stations. It was not used by 43 percent of respondents and followed by mobile routers that turn a car into a wi-fi hot spot, unused by 38 percent.

Automatic parking systems were unused by 35 percent of those surveyed, the report found.

That means car makers are spending more and drivers are paying more for potentially unwanted technology bundled into cars.

Drivers, especially those ages 21-38 use their smartphones rather than their cars to connect to their favourite apps or search for nearby services.

The survey found that even though Google testing a self-driving car and Apple working on its own version, 35 percent of new car owners never used their automatic parking systems.

Virgin Media uses customers’ routers to provide free wi-fi

Virgin Media launch 50Mb with Rachel Stevens December 2008Virgin Media is planning to use its customers own routers to create a free public wi-fi scheme in London.

Neil Berkett, chief executive of Virgin Media said he was in “quite advanced negotiations” with London councils over the plans and said he was optimistic the rollout would begin “in the not too distant future”.

Virgin Media’s wi-fi network will be freely available to anyone at 0.5Mbps, and to its home broadband subscribers at up to 10Mbps.

The approach contrasts with BT’s extensive Openzone network, which although free to BT broadband customers, is charged at as much as £5.99 for 90 minutes’ browsing.

Berkett described the plans as “a punt” that will cost Virgin Media “a few million pounds” and will keep BT honest.

3G mobile broadband networks were not satisfying consumers’ demands for data on the move and suggested that the few years’ delay expected before 4G networks and devices are widely available left a gap in them market, he said.

The gap that is increasingly occurring between consumers’ need for data outside the home and what they can get on 3G.

Virgin Media plans to install wi-fi routers in its existing infrastructure, including the street-side cabinets that distribute its cable network into home. The talks with councils are focused on gaining permission for the necessary works.

Virgin, not really. They’ve promised that any outsider who connects to one of the router will be given a completely separate connection so it won’t affect a customer’s wi-fi performance or the speed of the internet.

If customers are uncomfortable about sharing wi-fi with others, Virgin says you can easily opt-out, but it does mean you then won’t have access to anyone else’s WiFi.

Parents sue school over wi-fi

wi-fi symbol A US school which installed wi-fi for the benefit of students has suddenly found itself sued by one set of parents who thinks the nasty wireless hurt their precious snowflake.

Fay School in Southborough has been sued by the parents claiming their child suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. The radio waves emitted by the school’s Wi-Fi routers cause the kid serious discomfort and physical harm.

The school has had wi-fi for a while, but it was at 2.5GHz. When the school moved to 5GHz routers the child apparently suffered from nausea and rashes to headaches and even chest pain. We got that on our last PC upgrade too.

The parents want an injunction that would force the school to accommodate their child, either by replacing the network with Ethernet or “turning down” the Wi-Fi whenever the kid walks into a room.

This will make sure that everyone in the school knows how important their precious snowflake is and that his parents actually had sex once to create him or her. It will also mean that a whole school will have to accept their view that their child’s illnesses are not a psychosomatic reaction to parents who keep embarrassing him at school.

The head of the Fay School, Rob Gustavson, said that Fay has completed exhaustive studies of its local airwaves, and that the campus is entirely compliant with safety regulations.

EHS is pretty much a made up illness. Studies have consistently showed that sufferers don’t directly react to the presence of electromagnetic fields but get sick anyway. The kid was diagnosed with EHS by Dr. Jeanne Hubbuch but the syndrome isn’t recognized among the broader medical community.

On her website Hubbuch describes herself as practising “integrative medicine” which in the UK we call a Holistic approach. She thinks wi-fi is the only thing that can be responsible for the kid’s illness.

District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman has scheduled a hearing for September 4, ahead of Fay’s classes resuming on September 9. The family’s lawyer, John Markham II, told the paper that the goal is to get a preliminary injunction that would allow the child to attend school without discomfort.