Friday, November 1, 2013

Spying from the toaster

Henry Ford said “if there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get to other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own”. If you stop to think on that for a moment, one of the espionage objectives precisely consists on learning how others see the world in order to ensure one’s own success.

Therefore the espionage episodes published in recent months should not be surprised for anyone. However, it both the scope and the tools used are reaching unsuspected limits . The latest news are that some home appliances imported from China have been detected that include a chip able to detect unprotected WiFi networks in a 200 meters radius and connect to a server abroad without their owners' knowledge. They are still investigating the type of data that can be transmitted by them.

In this sense, Chinese’s protest about the reports saying that the U.S. and its allies have used their embassies in the region as operational centers of the NSA’s secret program seem as an exercise of pure cynicism. Nevertheless, in the sphere of international relations, everyone should play their cards.

Talking about a cards, there is one type of debit/credit cards known as contactless one. In fact, those are potentially more dangerous than a simple card because they have the ability to make direct payments from our bank accounts without PIN or signature. Nonetheless they are not supposed to transmit data further than 10 cm from a reader. In this regard, a research by Thomas P Diakos at the University of Surrey, shows that a homemade and cheap receiver could capture some information from this kind of cards at a distance of between 20 and 90 cm.

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