Feeds

Snowden: Canadian spooks used free airport WiFi to track travellers

Report says sniffing was probably illegal as local Spookhaus defends actions

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Another day, another item of news about unwarranted state surveillance from the desk of one E. Snowden, late of Moscow.

This time the allegation is that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) slurped information about the owners of wireless devices from the free WiFi service in one of the nation's airports. With that data in hand, the agency is said to have then tracked travellers for “days” after they left the airport.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has the story and says it comes from “A top secret document retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and obtained by CBC News”.

Snowden's documents apparently say anyone that passed through an airport could be tracked, although it is not clear if login to the free WiFi service was required. Logging in wouldn't necessarily be required to track someone: a device set to detect the presence of WiFi networks is likely to reveal its MAC address. If spooks sniffed WiFi routers for MAC addresses of connecting devices, then looked for that MAC address popping up elsewhere, they could easily plot a device's movement.

(Yes, we know that MAC addresses an oddity because they are supposed to be unique but can also be changed to a value used in another device. Changing MAC address is therefore a fine way to make it harder to identify a device, but is not the kind of thing most people who pass through airports would know about.)

The usual oohing and aahing that follows a Snowden release is now rippling across the Web. CESC is pointing out that it is allowed to collect communications metadata (which explains now sniffing a MAC address in an airport could translate into wider tracking). Canadians are expressing shock that their own government spied on them.

Making things more interesting is that the head of CSEC recently said the agency does not surveil Canadians. If CSEC was able to sort citizens from visitors at an airport just by sniffing WiFi-enabled devices, that could be the most damaging revelation of all! ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?