Web attackers know where you live

Most people feel that using the internet gives them a certain amount of anonymity, but they would no doubt be horrified to learn that it is now possible to find out where people live from their internet use.

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One-time criminal hacker Samy Kamkar used his computer skills to demonstrate how unsecure the internet can be by creating a booby-trapped website that allows attackers to track down exactly where a user lives.
By exploiting security failings in routers along with internet tools that are widely available, Mr Kamkar was able to trace a person visiting his booby-trapped website to within nine metres of their physical location.

People usually access the internet through a router which normally only allows the computer connected to it to access ID information.

But Mr Kamkar was able to create a webpage that fooled the router into giving out ID information as though the request was coming from the computer connected to the router.

The ID information, known as a Mac address, could then be used with a geo-location feature of the Firefox web browser. This calls up a Google database that was created when the Street View service was created.

The database associates each Mac address with GPS co-ordinates to find their physical location.

Mr Kamkar said: "This is geo-location gone terrible.

"Privacy is dead people. I'm sorry."

Mikko Hypponen, senior researcher at security firm F Secure said: "The thought that someone, somewhere on the net can find where you are is pretty creepy.

"Scenarios where an attack like this would be used would be stalking or targeted attacks against an individual.

"The fact that databases like Google Streetview's Mac-to-Location database or the Skyhook database can be used in these attacks just underlines how much responsibility companies that collect such data have to safeguard it correctly."

Would you be reluctant to use the internet knowing that someone could trace your location through your computer? Or would you continue to use the internet and hope that new security features will be developed.

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.