WiFi eavesdropping demonstration in Smell of Data documentary

Leanne Wijnsma created with her Smell of Data project a device that can warn their owners when a data leak occurs. A specific alerting odor will be released by the device when a data leak is detected.

She asked me to show data that people were leaking from their phones and laptops when traveling around. So I prepared my WiFi gear and together with her and a camera team we walked around Amsterdam. What we observed shocked Leanne (item starts at 03:23):

Transcript of part 2 of the Smell of Data documentary (03:23 – 05:19):

“I have a lot of incredible devices.
But I have no clue what is happening underneath their hood.
With ethical hacker Sijmen Ruwhof I am exploring what a data leak looks like.
We’re setting up our own network.
Peoples’ devices connect with Sijmen’s antenna.
We’re monitoring how many people are connecting to our network.”

“Two people are connected at the moment.
We could increase that by opening it further.
Those two people are browsing over my internet connection right now.”

“33 people connect with our network in the cafe,
300 on our way to the train station, and another 50 during the train ride.
Peoples’ network IDs appear on our screen in rapid pace.
Street addresses, peoples’ names…
It frightens the daylight out of me.
I realize, with a smartphone in my pocket I’m constantly transmitting information.
Who I am. Where I am. Who is with me.
Without me seeing or feeling any of it.”

Watch full documentary
The Smell of Data documentary consists of four episodes:

  1. Digital Jungle
  2. Making Leaks Sensible
  3. Warning Mechanism
  4. Training the Instinct

About Sijmen Ruwhof

Independent IT Security Researcher / Ethical Hacker
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