Modern Wi-Fi could be locking on to you

The idea of the Wi-Fi network finding you instead of you finding the network, sounds like a meme 4chan users would make.

“In Mother Russia, Wi-Fi finds you!”

But this time, it’s not Mother Russia, it’s MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and it’s no meme – this is the real thing.

A research team, led by Professor Dina Katabi, created a new system they call Chronos. It enables a Wi-Fi access point to pinpoint and track all the adapters connected to it.

The benefits are obvious – when the Wi-Fi connects to you, there’s no need for passwords. It would be basically impossible for outsiders to hack into such a network.

It does so by calculating the time it takes for data to travel from the user to the access point. The method, the researchers say, is 20 times more accurate than what we have today. Time-of-flight is computed with an average error of 0.47 nanoseconds, or half than one-billionth of a second. That’s like, really fast.

The researchers tested the new technology in a typical home with four people, and a café. In the home, it managed to identify the user’s location with 94 per cent accuracy, while in the café – it was 97 per cent.

But as with any other technology, this one as well can be abused – it allows you to track the device locked onto the network in a way similar to how GPS works.

But in the hands of the wrong people, anything can be abused, and any technology which could make Wi-Fi stealing a thing of the past should be given a try.