This week is “Privacy Week” on Knightwise.com where we are going to focus on applications, tips and tricks to keep YOUR data safe from prying eyes. “Why ? ” you might say .. “I have nothing to hide”. Are you sure about that ? Then lets strip the blinds from your bedroom so your neighbours can enjoy the saturday-night “bow-chicka-bowow” action with your spouse .. or since we are at it , remove the doors from ALL public bathrooms … You won’t mind to squat in plain sight, do you .. you had “nothing to hide”.
The point I am trying to make is that privacy is not only a basic human right, “Keeping your privacy” is also becoming a very personal statement in this world where everybody seems to spy on everybody. In this series of articles we won’t teach you how to stay out of reach from the NSA or stuff, but will give you some basic pointers on how to keep your personal information away from script kiddies, nosy network administrators and the small minority of malevolent hackers that might actually be out to get YOU. The fact of the matter is : Getting your hands on other people’s information is just too darn easy these days. What if that nerdy kid in the coffee shop is keeping track of all the url’s you are visiting. What if the stalky network admin at work has an extra special interest in your traffic, what if there is a Pinapple hotspot in operation without you knowing it (Check out the special we did on this interesting device HERE ) “So WHAT ? WHAT can they see ?” you ask ? lets illustrate with a little video here.
So you see : Your privacy is not always guaranteed. Tag along on our privacy week and pick up some pointers on how to keep your privacy .. private.
Free wifi is great. It’s like finding an oasis in the middle of the desert that gives you the ability to quench your digital thirst before you wade into the offline sahara once again. But “Open and Free” wifi comes at a price. Being a shared network medium, it means that all traffic on the wireless network is visible to all users on that network , should they care to take a peak.
With networking tools like “Wireshark” it is fairly easy sniff traffic on an open wifi network and intercept all kinds of unencrypted traffic. That traffic can consist of what URL’s you surf to to what passwords you use (if you have an unsecured connection) .. They are all there for anyone to sniff, download and analyse.
To keep your browser traffic private all you need to do is encrypt it. One of the ways to do this is of course use https connections where you can, but if that is not possible there are alternatives. You can set up your own SSH proxy server. This means you will be creating an encrypted tunnel from your laptop, TROUGH the internet, to your home server. Once there (behind the security of your own firewall) your traffic heads for the internet. Its like surfing at home, but you are in fact ‘away from home’.
The only thing you need are :
– Access over SSH to a linux server. ( Check our our tutorial on how to set this up)
– A copy of Firefox.
Setting it up is quite easy , and we will probably do a screencast on the issue in season 8 of our podcast, but instead of boring you with a lot of text , we are going to point you to the excellent podcast episode Kurtis Adkins did for Hacker Public Radio on the topic. Take 20 minutes and listen carefully. When you are done (and have the ingredients above) you will be able to secure your webtraffic from anyone who wants to snoop around. (Hackers, scriptkiddies or nosy sysadmins)
Link : Curtis Adkins on : Setting up and using SSH and SOCKS (Hacker public Radio ep 1422)
Its Go-go-gadget review time again as we get our greedy little geek hands on the latest gadgets from Samsung. We do an in depth review of their new Phablet the “Note 3” and turn ourselves into Michael Knight (from Knightrider .. remember ?) as we slap on the worlds most advanced smart watch : The Galaxy Gear.
So have you ever wondered what the humidity level is like in your living room ? Or how far the temperature drops outside during the night. Would you like to know the decibel level in your house during the night or the overall air quality ? It might not seem essential information you CANNOT live without but its just a small selection of the information offered by the Netatmo weather station.
Now some say that weather stations are for old uncles with bushy nose hair who like to smoke a pipe, drive a volvo and quote Carl Sagan during birthday parties. Who tell you (while using dramatic gestures) that the amount of hectopascal pressure is ..”Too damn high” for the time of year.
And lets face it .. as an information junkie having access to this kind of information is just too cool to pass up. But you’re not a creepy uncle (yet) and surely lack the bushy nose hair .. and you are a geek .. So what do you do.
169 euro’s later you might find yourself the proud owner of the Netatmo weather station. Forget old school weather station contraptions that are bolted to the outside of mouldy cabins in the woods. These 2 battery powered cylindrical devices (one for the inside and on for outside) have sensors for temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, Decibel levels, Air quality and more. Nice if you are “in the room” but with the wifi hookup you can access this info anywhere you go.
A very easy setup process lets you setup an account with Netatmo and install their mobile application on your favorite Android or IOS Tablet or smartphone to access your weather station from anywhere.
I must be honest : At first we thought .. What are we gonna DO with this ? But the fact that you can access the “real time” indoor and outdoor weather stats on your portable device ANYWHERE is pretty darn cool. But the real fun starts when you start looking at the “logs” of all the sensory information collected by the Netatmo. Instead of just “sayin” the weather was good the last week, you can just whip up your phone and show off a very detailed graph of the moisture level in your garden over the last 23 days.
The power of the Netatmo lies in its well designed apps for the IOS and Android platform. Though the sensory range of the Netatmo is “limited’ ( We find that a Geiger counter would be a nice geeky addition) the total package is pretty cool. The sound meter is great but may give you the accidental ability to find out what weeknights your parents have sex. Whether you will be using your Netatmo on a daily basis once the gadget-factor wears of is something that we don’t know but it sure is cool to play with.
At a 169 Euro’s for the basic set (additional outside modules available) the Netatmo is not cheap but if weather stations are your thing , this is one of the best geek-friendly ones you can get. With its high build quality, pretty design and perfect app execution the Netatmo never ‘rains on your parade’ .
We walk the hackers walk this week and show you how to accumulate your own database of Wireless access points in your area using nothing more but your smartphone. And if that is not enough we take it a step further and teach you how to find an open wifi hotspot anywhere on the planet. Listener Thor swings by and tells you to connect to the Knightwise.com Mumble server using your Android device.
- The Wigle app (android)
- Camping Dallas.
- Plumble (android)
- The Knightwise.com promo page.
- kw 608 : Sniffing wifi with the pineapple.
Time to raise the hairs on the neck of all Wifi-enabled laptop and mobile phone users in this interesting interview with Gerjon McVries ( @mcvries on Twitter) about “The pineapple” and its awesome (and malevolent) potential when it comes to exploiting basic flaws in Wifi enabled devices. If you were worried about the NSA sniffing your traffic in the Prism debacle, then try not to realise that a 14 year old scriptkiddie with a paypall account could buy this awesome toy and sniff every bit you transmit.
- Little Brother and Homeland by Corry Doctorow (Free books)
- The Hak 5 Forum for Pineapple users.
- What are you waiting for : Buy one.
- Rickroll everyone with your pineapple.
- The Prism Scandal
- McVries’ personal website.
- Linux Basement Podcast.
You all know I hate sync cables and application with a passion that borders on the insane. Somehow the logic escapes me that our “mobile devices” ever need to be connected with a “Cable” to our laptops or workstations. Our phones and tablets must be free and independent devices that do not require a connection method that goes back to the PalmCe PDA.
So todays softwarepick AIRDROID makes sure I do not foam at the mouth whenever a pairing between phone and computer is required. After installing the client on your Android device you are good to go. Use the browser on any device on the same Wifi Network. After slamming in the correct URL to your mobile device (the client will tell you) you can :
- File management: transfer files between your computer and your android device ( Files on the SD card )
- SMS management: send, read, delete SMS messages (For those of you who still do that)
- Photos: preview, set as wallpaper, slideshow, import/export
- Share clipboard between desktop and your Android device (very nice for long passwords)
- Applications: install, uninstall, backup (downloads .apk files), search (for those apps you ‘didn’t buy’ in the store)
- Contacts management: create contacts, search, check call logs (See who has been spamming you )
- Ringtones: import from computer, export, preview, customize ringtones for phone calls, notifications and alarms
- Music: import from computer, export, play, etc.
Airdroid helps out a lot when it comes to the hassle of getting content to and FROM your mobile device. It might not be as fast as the Millenium Falcon on the Kessel run .. but you still have a wired alternative if you are looking for that kind of data transfer rates.
Even on your broken phone.
Remember that HTC one X you dropped on the floor last week ? The one with the broken glass but the working touchscreen ? Or the old Galaxy SII that has the funky batter ? Why not plug it into the charger, hook it up to your wifi, install Airdroid and use it as a “sms modem” for the family ? You, your wife / kids / dog can acces the phone via a webbrowser and use it to send text messages. Huzzah ! Old broken hardware rescued from oblivion once again.
Airdroid is cool because it requires nothing on the client side except for a browser and gives you the convenience of managing a small device from the big screen of your laptop.
There used to be a time when we went wardriving. We hopped into the car and drove around looking for open Wifi networks. 2 things have changed since then : Networks are so abundant now that you don’t HAVE to drive around anymore. 2 : Even redneck geeks have learned that they need to lock down their wifi network so cousin earl won’t be leeching his porn collection of their bandwidth. The whole “He might have married our mom but he won’t get our pipe” and all that.
But how hard IS it to hack a wireless network anyway ? Turns out , not THAT hard. We all know that WEP encryption is worthless and even WPA can be broken. But just how much skill do you need ? Well : It turns out we can ALL have a “crack” at it with the BackTrack live cd. This great tutorial shows you not only how to protect your own network from intruders , it also teaches you a little white hat wifi hacking skills you thought you would never learn. ” Welcome to the matrix Neo .. Here is your Wifi – Hacking Manual ”
In the beginning there was crap.
If I do have to point out what programs I use the most beside Firefox, its probably Skype. From what used to be a fancy Voice Over Ip novelty thing where you could talk instead of type it has evolved into a means of communication that has outgrown even my use of IM programs like MSN and all the others. By comparison : I use my cellphone for about 20 minutes a month , while my average Skype time can count up to more then 1 or even two hours a day sometimes. To the amount that what used to be a busy MSN list and an occasional Skype contact fluttering by, is now more of the opposite.
The great thing is that its becoming more and more popular around the world. Not only is the amount of users steadily increasing, the third party technology is finally rising above proto-techno level and is starting to make some seriously interesting stuff.
First off (of course) there where the headsets. Since the coming of Skype the most exotic headsets in all sizes and degrees of quality have popped up on the market. From the flimsy to the “Nasa mission control” style headsets have been used with Skype with various degrees of succes.Later came the handsets. Nothing more than a headset with a mike and line plug to jack into your sound-card. The only difference was that it looked like the handset of a phone. Slightly more inconvenient then a headset I personally think , but useful none the less.More advanced models used USB and the functionality of acting as an external soundcard to give more buzz to the horn. You could now dial numbers on the horn instead of using your keyboard. Since you where only 3 feet away from your keyboard anyway (the cable is just that short) there is no use in that whatsoever.So bring on the external DECT phone.
Using a wireless handset and a USB Dongle connected to your pc , you could now roam the house when calling on skype. Pretty cool and dandy. You could even call people on your skype list and use some models in combination with a classic landline resulting in a hybrid voip/classic phone. Only bummer ? Your Skype had to be running on your pc. It was getting better .. but not yet.
So what do we realy need : Well , a kind of phone like the one mentioned above .. But without the pc . How about a phone that has Skype running inside it. Embedded so to speak. And wouldn’t it be great if that phone would use a standard wireless ethernet connection as the link? No extra devices needed ?
In-bed with Skype.
Enter the embedded skype phone. First time is was rumored was quite some time ago. Netgear was supposed to be working on their model with the program embedded and using Wifi as means of connection. But at a proposed price of 250 Euro”s it did weigh in quite heavy on the wallet. Time to call our next competitor. That one came in the form and shape of the new BELKIN skype phone . Clearly looking a tidbit more snappy then its competitor the Belkin model actually looks like a real phone. (something of a love-child between a Ericsson 610 and a bar of shoe-polish) but nice in both the functionality department (equipped with bluetooth and actively on the lookout for free wifi everywhere) and the price (at some 170 dollars US) For the moment its only available in the US but we will keep you posted when we get our hands on one.
What it boils down to is that WIFI is a serious competitor for classic cellphone carrier signals, GPRS and UMTS when you start having devices like this. Possibly the greatest intrusion on the market of the classic cellphone industry can be made with devices like these. Slowly but surely the age of the pay-per-second phone billing industry is coming to an and and the landline dinosaurs have outlived the flintstone age.
But what would be even cooler ? How about an embedded camera in that phone. Now THAT would be awesome. Being able to call hands free, perch the phone on the table and there you go. But besides from a combination of existing technology into a new product this would also require a change of mentality. The age of email made way for the age of chat. The age of chat has made way for the age of talk and the age of talk will make way for the age of image. The mental upgrade you have to make is using video at any given moment as an enhancement of the communication. Either people webcam with far away family relatives or they are teenagers that are trying to undress their female peers in a futile attempt for kicks. The trick is : Tune it into your way of life. Like me and my buddy Dave for example. We just fire up the webcam as I'm cooking dinner. It might be fun at first to have somebody at the other side of the globe yell at you because your spuds are boiling over. Another cool thing to do (certainly with the built in isight) is to give your buddy a tour around the house. Like with all new technology , at first its a novelty , just playing with it long enough so it becomes natural is the trick.