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Author Topic: Can i be traced when using wifi?  (Read 30251 times)

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« on: 23/09/2008 20:59:10 »
Some retail outlets and large open spaces have a free, non-subscription - no password, wifi. If I were to use the wifi for something not "strictly legal" could by wifi enabled device be traced?


Offline Bored chemist

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« Reply #1 on: 23/09/2008 21:56:37 »
It's not something I'd gamble on.

Offline RD

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« Reply #2 on: 24/09/2008 01:01:25 »
Your MAC address will identify your computer, it is analogous to the number plate on a car.

Offline rosalind dna

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« Reply #3 on: 24/09/2008 11:49:19 »
Also do you pay as you go with it as I do for my mobile phone.

If so that is untraceable.

Offline Nobody's Confidant

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« Reply #4 on: 24/09/2008 14:04:42 »
Super spy work, huh commie? USA! USA!

Offline techmind

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« Reply #5 on: 24/09/2008 23:11:00 »
Of course technically you can often reprogram your MAC address with a lower-level utility.

Even so, if you're using Windows, then all sorts of identifiers can slip out. Numerous emails I send have my (at one stage self-defined) machine-name somewhere in the headers. All sorts of websites use Cookies and other identifiers. The Google toolbar starts splicing UIDs looking like 1T4GGLJ_enGB###GB### into searches.

It wouldn't necessarily be *easy* to trace, but you'd be unwise to assume that just because you were using an anonymous WiFi that you weren't leaving some fingerprints...

If you have Windows Update, anti-virus software, or all manner of newer applications they phone home surprisingly frequently, and if nothing else, their records could be used to prove that your computer was connected to the "anonymous" WiFi network at or near the time of your dubious download or hacking session.

If you had a mobile phone about your person at the time, then forensic records from the telco could indicate that you were within a few 100 metres (or less) of the WiFi shop at the time of "the incident".

The shop, high-street, or mall will probably have CCTV which will show you were there.

A few hours ago, I installed a printer for someone. During the install, the printer driver asked permission to (during the life of the printer) send back to the manufacturer counts of pages printed, ink-levels remaining, and various other statistics.
Is that any of their business? It's more spying, and more digital fingerprints.

Many colour laser printers overlay all colour prints with a matrix of very fine almost invisible yellow dots, which code the serial number of the machine that made the print and the date and time at which the print was made. If you illuminate such a page using a blue LED light and look very closely, you can see the dots. Allegedly this coding is to help enable the tracing of any forged documents or currencies etc which are printed. But it's more spying.

Moral: never assume anything you do digitally is untraceable these days.
« Last Edit: 24/09/2008 23:29:36 by techmind »

Offline engrByDayPianstByNight

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« Reply #6 on: 06/10/2008 18:19:31 »
Just to add my two cents of another meaning of tracing: mobility tracing, i.e., your whereabouts as you carry your handheld device and walk around. This sort of "physical" tracing (as opposed to the "logical" tracing as the other guys have already talked about) involves coordination of some fixed infrastructure (e.g., base stations and cell towers in cellular networks, Access Points in Wireless LAN, etc.).

I once deployed a small network (with five laptops) and did a demo for a group of visiting researchers from the telcom industry and academia, with four laptops positioned along the hallway (call them "relays"), and the fifth being carried by a person to walk past by these laptops. I in the lab could see from a desktop his laptop's IP address being registered successively on each of the relays as he passed them by, thus knowing where he was at physically.

My point is, this sort of mobility tracing can be done, and it's not as difficult as some might think.

Offline yor_on

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« Reply #7 on: 09/01/2009 13:03:27 »
Of course you could do something 'illegal':)
And hide yourself very well too.

But that you can do from home too if you want.
It all depends on how much leverage and effort those who is befallen with your manipulations are willing to spend to find you.

But we build our human 'networks' on trust, not 'distrust'.
Even though big business and state may view us differently, we as private citizens trusts our insurance companies banks communal services to 'work' in a fair and 'honest' manner, don't we.
« Last Edit: 09/01/2009 13:06:19 by yor_on »

Offline chrisn

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« Reply #8 on: 17/01/2009 09:23:43 »
It also depends on how illegal it is what you want to do, or rather how much time the police/justice are willing to spend on it. Downloading some music won't be high on their list (but public wifi won't be very fast). Money scams, buying/selling pictures of the wrong category will give them a lot of incentive to catch you. For the latter part, public wifi might work, but it will be very hard.

See newbielink: [nonactive] to get some more info on getting a bit of privacy online, at the cost of speed.

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Can i be traced when using wifi?
« Reply #8 on: 17/01/2009 09:23:43 »


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