Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Location Spoofing Possible With WiFi Devices: Positioning System Used By IPhone/iPod Breached

Date:
April 16, 2008
Source:
ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Summary:
Apple iPhone and iPod (touch) support a new self-localization feature that uses known locations of wireless access points as well as the device's own ability to detect access points. Now researchers have demonstrated that positions displayed by the devices using this system can be falsified, making the use of this self-localization system unsuitable in a number of security- and safety-critical applications.

Apple iPhone and iPod (touch) support a new self-localization feature that uses known locations of wireless access points as well as the device's own ability to detect access points. Now researchers at ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have demonstrated that positions displayed by the devices using this system can be falsified, making the use of this self-localization system unsuitable in a number of security- and safety-critical applications.

In January, Skyhook Wireless Inc. announced that Apple would use Skyhook's WiFi Positioning System (WPS) for its popular Map applications. The WPS database contains information on access points throughout the world. Skyhook itself provides most of the data in the database, with users contributing via direct entries to the database, and requests for localization. ETH Zurich Professor Srdjan Capkun of the Department of Computer Science and his team of researchers analysed the security of Skyhook's positioning system. The team's results demonstrate the vulnerability of Skyhook's and similar public WLAN positioning systems to location spoofing attacks.

Impersonation and elimination

When an Apple iPod or iPhone wants to find its position, it detects its neighbouring access points, and sends this information to Skyhook servers. The servers then return the access point locations to the device. Based on this data, the device computes its location. To attack this localization process, Professor Capkun's team decided to use a dual approach. First, access points from a known remote location were impersonated. Second, signals sent by access points in the vicinity were eliminated by jamming. These actions created the illusion in localized devices that their locations were different from their actual physical locations.

Simple falsification

Skyhook's WPS works by requiring a device to report the Media Access Control (MAC) addresses that it detects. However, since MAC addresses can be forged by rogue access points, they can be easily impersonated. Furthermore, access point signals can be jammed and signals from access points in the vicinity of the device can thus be eliminated. These two actions make location spoofing attacks possible.

Compromised usage

Professor Capkun explained that by demonstrating these attacks, the team hoped to point out the limitations, despite guarantees, of public WLAN-based localization services as well as of applications for such services. He said "Given the relative simplicity of the performed attacks, it is clear that the use of WLAN-based public localization systems, such as Skyhook's WPS, should be restricted in security and safety-critical applications."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. "Location Spoofing Possible With WiFi Devices: Positioning System Used By IPhone/iPod Breached." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414145659.htm>.
ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. (2008, April 16). Location Spoofing Possible With WiFi Devices: Positioning System Used By IPhone/iPod Breached. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414145659.htm
ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. "Location Spoofing Possible With WiFi Devices: Positioning System Used By IPhone/iPod Breached." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080414145659.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

Nintendo Changed Gaming World, but Its Future Uncertain: Upstone

AFP (Apr. 19, 2014) The Nintendo Game Boy celebrates its 25th anniversary Monday and game expert Stephen Upstone says the console can be credited with creating a trend towards handheld gaming devices. Duration: 01:21 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nearly Two Weeks On, The Internet Copes With Heartbleed

Nearly Two Weeks On, The Internet Copes With Heartbleed

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) The Internet is taking important steps in patching the vulnerabilities Heartbleed highlighted, but those preventive measures carry their own costs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Facebook To Share Nearby Friends Data With Advertisers

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed the company will use GPS data from the new Nearby Friends feature for advertising sometime in the future. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins